My son, keep your father’s command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. Proverbs 16:20-22
The other day, my very outspoken middle child declared multiple times at the dinner table that the Christmas crafts he made at school this year were all for Daddy, not me. Immediately, my husband’s eyes darted to me to see my reaction then back to our son hoping that he didn’t really mean what he said. My husband awkwardly thanked him. I chuckled. There was a time when I would have interpreted that as a rejection of my sacrifice to stay home and pour into them, but God had been preparing me for this moment for a while…
It started when I told the Lord I marveled at His patience with His children. Contrary to how many portray Him He doesn’t flip out when we go our own way or shout from the heavens: “don’t you know who I am!” Instead, the Father is so slow to get angry and abounds in mercy (Psalm 103:8)! So as if He were sharing a secret He “whispered” to me that it’s because He’s completely secure in His role as Father. Now that might seem like an obvious statement but He was saying that He knows the blessing He is to man and does not rely on man’s response to affirm that. The Father is well aware how utterly dependent we are on Him and delights in being our supply. That conviction does not change when we are delusional, doing our own thing and thinking we’re all that! He knows He is a blessing so insecurity has no place in Him. How we see Him and respond to Him does not diminish His significance, therefore He parents from a place of complete confidence and composure.
Jesus laid it out for us when He spoke of a father and his prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24). If you notice the father doesn’t respond to the son’s rejection with anger. Not only does he give the son a portion of the inheritance, he anticipates his son’s return. How do I know? He sees the son when he is still afar off. You have to be on the lookout to spot someone that far away! Why in the world did he have any expectation that his son would return after making it clear the father was as good as dead to him? That father knows he’s a blessing his son needs and that in time his son will realize it. Now the son doesn’t decide to come back because he values his father’s presence. He comes back because his stomach is empty and he remembers his father’s kindness; but it’s all his father needs to throw a party! The father welcomes his son lovingly and unconditionally before the son could make his offer to demote himself from son to servant. The father offered grace, the cure for bitterness and restorer of relationships (Hebrews 12:15).
Make no mistake, my friend; you and I are the exact parents our children need. The Father graces us with wise words for our children that are the way to life (Proverbs 6:20-23, NIV). He has blessed us to be a blessing to them (Genesis 12:2) including the anointing to unveil His love for them demonstrated on the cross of Christ. Unless we know that, we will parent from a place of insecurity, always needing their favorable response to validate our role as parents. Let’s not take the blank stares, rolling eyes and blatant rejection personally; they’re really rejecting the necessary instruction and boundaries we provide. Instead, by faith, let’s anticipate the Father using the natural consequences of their choices to turn them back to us so we can lovingly point them toward His love for them.
By the way, if you mess up on the lovingly part, don’t sweat it. You and I are still works in progress (Philippians 2:13, NLT)! The Lord doesn’t hold it against you because there is no condemnation for the believer (Romans 8:1, NIV). Just turn your eyes to the cross and remind yourself how much the Father loves you. It makes all the difference!
© Vanessa A. Harris and The Legacy of Faith, 2011.