Thankfully, Micah was able (thanks to Chick-fil-a!!!) to fly in for a long weekend. We still work, wait, and pray for wisdom and guidance. Our time together was sweet and not a moment taken for granted.We even got to attend the crowning of Miss Wilkes Central together. The winner was... my sister Chelsea!!! I was thankful that a girl with such a beautiful heart through the grace of God in her life won. Congratulations!
There are moments in parenting the boys -and in our present situation, I have more of them:)-that I learn something overwhelming and wonderful about God and the way He is a loving Father to me. Because of His grace, He gives me object lessons as I struggle through being a parent that seeks the best for my children. The boys and I have been sick this week. We have also had snow and have locked ourselves inside for the duration of the storm. Last night, I had big plans for us in spite of our circumstances. We have been working on a puzzle and I had selected some fun reading for us. There are always fun things to do on the Wii and Lego houses and Star Wars ships to build as well. But it was clear very early in the evening that I was going to have to discipline the boys. I knew the best way to train their hearts was to send them to bed without doing all the fun stuff. I gave them chance after chance to redeem themselves, but clearly, they were just going to keep taking advantage of the situation, not heed my warnings, and do what they wanted to do instead of what I had asked. My hesitation was selfish; I wanted us to enjoy the time together. I eventually sent them to bed and the minute the words came out of my mouth, they began bargaining with me promising they would do what I had asked. In our house, we follow the rule that obedience takes place the first time an instruction is given, when you have obeyed all the way, and done so with a happy heart. This was an opportunity for me to be consistent in this rule. They cried… actually wailed… and I cried. I had much better things planned for them this evening but because of their choices, all of us were missing out. If they had only trusted me and obeyed they would have been playing and not crying! As I sat on the sofa, listening to them vocalize their sadness, I immediately wondered about all the times I have been disciplined because of my choices and responded in the same way. Proverbs 12:1 admonishes: Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. It is difficult to declare “I love to be disciplined and I do not want to be stupid!”
Obedience is tricky. God first loved me, so I love, obey, and trust that God desires the best for me. I am understanding more and more the dynamics of true obedience in this way as compared to obedience out of guilt, a false sense of righteousness, because I think that in obeying I can get my own way, or trying to pay God back for what He has done for me. When I either don’t obey or my obedience is not out of a heart that loves God and God disciplines me out of love, I many times just feel badly that I didn’t get what I wanted or that something didn’t go as I planned. Even if the consequence is a clear result of my choices, I look for ways to blame God. I have felt that God was sovereignly unresponsive to my cries and glad I was getting what I deserved. As I wept with my boys, I realized very deeply how very wrong I have been. I never thought that He might be enduring with me, hearing my cries, and desiring that the discipline I was receiving would change my heart in the future. He at the same time supplies all I need to continue to have fellowship with Him through Christ and comfort in the midst of anguish through His steadfast love. There is deep love in discipline; far deeper than allowing behavior that will lead ultimately to destruction. I believe I have known these things as truths, but in this particular moment, God allowed me to feel them as I felt for my boys. The writer of Hebrews says it far better than I:
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.