I often live with a basic assumption that I could do better. Be a better friend, set a better example for my co-workers, drive with a better attitude, even complete a better house repair (OK…that one is almost always true). And…I’m right; I do not do always do what I ought. I live under judgment (often of my own making), and I’ve noticed I can interact with others in a judgemental way. In the most tightly knit of places, the family, this can result in a most challenging pattern.
Early on as a new father I had expectations about how my children should honor, respect and obey me. Their actions were a reflection upon me and who doesn’t want to look like they have it all under control? I was not always gentle in tone….I was quick to judge and stifle behaviors that reflected poorly on me. With a certain look from me, they knew they were out of line.
The Good Lord is patient though…isn’t He? I could not formulate the words several years ago, but in my heart this question stirred, “Is this how God wooed me towards him?” Did he judge me into loving Him? Did He prod me with my failings, my inadequacies, my faults and then say, “Come near to me.”? Of course this seems utterly foolish, yet it was the approach I would use to “train” my children.
What I’m talking about here is how I daily showed justice or grace to my children. I’m not a perfect example of how to lovingly, patiently bear hardships, serve and uphold grace and mercy before them, but I’m better than I was – Praise God.
So, how do I want to call my children? How do I want to woo them? I believe the answer is much closer to having grace for my children, even when justice is called for. I will guide, direct and admonish them as needed; laisse-faire parenting leaves children untethered, they need our direction. But I want them to come home, trusting in the reception of calm mercies from a loving father.
Can I be that father? If I want them to continually return to our Father’s house throughout their lives then may I not be a stumbling block to them now. May I trust the Lord to cultivate my children’s hearts through tender graces that I can dote upon them.
God could have leveraged justice against all of us, but He shows that He desires to woo us. He woos with His Mercy, His Kindness, His Patience……with His Son. Jesus Himself would only do what he sees the Father doing. What will our children see us doing?