I’ve been chewing over a thought. It keeps coming back to me every day. I can’t shake the thought even if I wanted to. So I’ll write about it. I don’t expect that I’ll be all that coherent as writing is usually the way I process my thoughts and it takes me a few goes at saying something before it starts to make sense to anyone else other than myself…so read along if you dare…but if you do, please leave your thoughts. I’d love to hear them!
Friends of mine (IRL and online) will know that I have often talked about parenting our children as God parents us. God is The Ultimate Parent…we do well to model our parenting methods after Him.
I’ve often hear and have used the phrase ‘ pleasing unto the Lord’ or that which ‘pleases God’. I try to live by it…knowing that of myself I cannot earn God’s favour, but to do those things which please Him, not to earn salvation but because His love, His grace compels me to do those things which please Him. For those readers who might be thinking that I’m steering toward a ‘works based’ mentality- I’m not. Not at all…I’m still very much aware of Isaiah 64:6
One of my children struggles with the sin of perfectionism. This leads to much frustration on their part (and ours). This child grumps and humphs in frustration or anger or impatience…and I’ve realised that I do not like being around them when they choose to display that behaviour! Their behaviour doesn’t give me pleasure…I don’t take delight in being with them at that time.
I’m not a parent who takes joy in only singing hymns, nor do we have special ‘approved’ activities which sit well with my moral compass and make me happy. For me, there are no activities that are more spiritual than others. One child plays softball with her whole heart, as unto the Lord. She works at every aspect of it and has experienced a lot of growth through the sport. For her, playing softball is an act of worship (her words). She plays like she was born to play softball. I LOVE watching her play. I get great delight in watching her play.
My son has recently started at Cadets. He practices his drill daily. He researches. He talks with his younger brother about it. He takes part in all the activities with gusto. He enjoys it. I LOVE watching him ‘do his thing’. I take pleasure in watching him do his Cadets thing.
Worship is an attitude, an act, a thought.
It isn’t something we just ‘put on’, it is a lifestyle. Worship isn’t just lighting candles, jumping up and down, singing or kneeling although all those things can be an act of worship. I’ve been learning how worship is all this – not just a prescribed set of actions.
Knowing that God is The Ultimate Parent, I’ll venture on…I’m trying to find a point here somewhere.
If I take pleasure watching my child partake in an activity with their whole heart (as unto the Lord), and they are enjoying themselves and have a good attitude, does God take pleasure in watching me as I go about my daily activities with joy? As much as I don’t take great pleasure in being with a child who is choosing to stomp around, maybe it doesn’t give God pleasure when I’m stomping around or thinking negatively or nastily. Can I do these things? Yup! (Does my freedom that allows me to do them make it beneficial or right?) Does it give God pleasure? Does He delight in seeing me act that way?
So what does God delight in?
And how does this affect my parenting- the way I interact with my children? I’m not talking about living a just, honest life and all those good things. As a parent I want to see my children living according to biblical guidelines but that isn’t what I’m trying to get at. My children each have unique interests and different abilities. I love to watch them as they discover those abilities and even more as they learn to grow and mature those abilities. It’s not just a ‘fun’ type of pleasure, it’s a deeper type of joyous, satisfying delight. To see them live out those interests with their unique abilities, seeking only to glorify the father gives me pleasure. I don’t see playing an instrument in church any more ‘spiritual’ than playing softball or painting. The activity itself isn’t the major point, it’s the heart attitude. (Obviously this is not a theological essay so I’m sure you’ll bear with my inconsistent thoughts).
As I’ve watched one of my children, trying to run away from God, I am learning a lot about the fatherly nature of God. On the other hand, as I’ve watched another child I and also learning a lot about his nature. This child has given their whole life to the Lord, to be in His service. They discovered an ability, they grow and mature that ability, all the while giving glory to God. During all this, their heart is turned toward their father and I. We know this child and have a good relationship with them. We cry with them and we laugh with them. We share in their ups and downs. They desire to do that which pleases us, as we are the child’s parents. We know that they respect, honour and love us. When this child embraces their ability and participates in it, it feels natural…we love to watch and be a part of it. It doesn’t give us any more pleasure than an activity that is more ‘socially acceptable’ as a form of worship. Yet this is worship- real life, total worship of the Creator, The Father, God.
What do I delight in seeing in my children?
A heart that will ‘toe the line’ with following our guidelines… A heart that doesn’t *delight* in our relationship or a relationship with my child that allows them to make mistakes…knowing that they desire to please me out of love, gratitude and relationship not in order to ‘look good’ or appearing to be obedient or trying to win my approval?
I don’t mind when my children make mistakes, if their heart is filled with love and is turned toward me. A mistake is a mistake. But there are some children who want to live life all their own way – not in relationship – living purely by the rules – nothing more, nothing less. This type of obedience fills me with sorrow as they are missing out on so much – relationship. I love my children. I want to have a deep, real, honest relationship with each one of them…I haven’t stopped loving them. I haven’t set my face to turn against them. I have forgiven. I haven’t moved away. But they don’t always want that. They sometimes want to walk their own road by themselves, regardless of what it may bring.:::: sigh ::::
Is God like that with me, I wonder?
Does He delight in me, does He smile, when watching me partaking in activities and using the gifts that He has given me? I have a relationship with Him…my heart and life is His.
Our view of God will affect the way we parent our children.
So, if we want to do a good job of parenting then we need to know what it is to be a child. We need to know who the Ultimate Parent is.
I’m not trying to put the cart before the horse, nor am I getting into heresy. I’m simply seeing another side to my relationship with the Father – how a father delights in His children. Here we have what pleases the Lord: Psalm 147:10-11
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
What a word…delight. Jesus is a delight to the Father. He delighted in His Son. Through being born again, we have been adopted into God’s family and we are His sons and daughters. He delights in you. He delights in me.
Again, I’m not trying to compare my parenting practices to God. I learn more about the nature of God through being a parent. I’m sure some will have issues with this post but I hope you will hear my heart and not just my words. I know this post doesn’t have all its theological ducks in a row but I do hope and pray that you can read the ethos of it.