One of the child-rearing challenges we have been facing in the last year or so is repeated offenses. All the discipline does not seem to stick.
Who am I kidding? They do not stick. At all.
The same issues come up over and over again, and I find myself asking, ”Why do you not listen?” or ”How many times do we have to tell you?” My creativity can only go so far finding ways to get through to her. God only knows.
And it hit me: God does know.
Those old, repetitive, sinful offenses. Why is it that the same things keep rearing their ugly heads? The Holy Spirit convicts, my heart is pricked, and I ask God to forgive and help me do better. That old accuser and tempter Satan knows exactly where I am weak, the exact areas that trip me up in my daily walk. So many days, I end up disgusted with myself – for the food choices, the attitudes, the things that did not get done. Tomorrow comes and nothing changes.
How many times have I asked God for wisdom, strength, and grace to be the person He desires me to be? I imagine God if He gets frustrated asking, “Will you ever learn? How many times do I have to tell you?”
You would think the discipline He gives would change my desires and teach me the lessons. I know them in my head, but just like Eve, I find a way to shift blame: lack of discipline, a headache, exhaustion, or even something that someone else has done.
The problem: the change has not moved from my head to my heart. True repentance has not taken place.
Just like Rebekah, who has not yet learned the importance of repentance, a change in my actions will not occur until I take to heart the discipline from my heavenly Father. I love my girls and desire to see them live healthy, happy, godly lives. Sometimes that requires unpleasant conversations and discipline, but I always remind them how much they are loved. Love is the reason for discipline.
How much more must my heavenly Father love me?
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as sons:
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves, He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?”Hebrews 12:5-7, NKJV
What an amazing heavenly Father I have, to put up with and be merciful and gracious to a sinner like me! My patience would have run out long ago — and may still with my own children.
It came to me that the times Rebekah obeys and behaves, those are the times I feel more apt to give her more liberty. Her growing maturity in those moments shows she can handle a little more responsibility than when she is acting out and disobeying. Maybe I let her help me wash the dishes or I teach her how to crochet. But the times she is being disobedient, she cannot handle those experiences; she needs to be re-focused on the basics of obedience and respect.
Here is where the rubber meets the road — God wants me to understand that life will be more abundant, more peaceful, more joyful, more fruitful… when I am consistently obedient to His will for my life.
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”Hebrews 12:11, NKJV
Can God trust me with the desires of my heart? Yes, the rules can feel restricting at times, but obedience brings freedom. By obeying God in the areas I am neglecting, by being disciplined in these things, freedom and fruit will be produced. God requires restrictions in certain areas to protect us from harm, and yet they bring about freedom to experience abundant life!
Could that be the lesson the psalmist meant to convey when he wrote: ”Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:4-5, KJV).
”Delight”…”commit”. What great joy when the desires are received by being completely in the center of His will!
So those tasks that seem mundane? That diet that feels restricting? Those days that seem short on time? Will we say, ”Yes, Lord”, and obey His commands? Will we commit those things to Him? He promises abundant life to those who trust in Him. He came to set us free, and true freedom can only be found in Him!
”If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)