1. Parenting taught me why God wants me to obey him.
Our children didn’t understand why we made them eat green vegetables, do their schoolwork, and go to bed at a decent hour. They couldn’t fathom how baths were good and eating dirt was bad. It was a mystery to them why we were so passionate about them avoiding alcohol, only dating believers, and hanging out with kids who loved Jesus.
I loved playing with my children. I loved teaching them. I loved sharing adventures, reading to them, and taking trips. I loved feeding them, clothing them, and giving them special gifts.
I did not enjoy making them obey. I didn’t enjoy holding them accountable to be honest, diligent, and respectful. I didn’t enjoy making them do chores, save their money, and complete their school assignments. I didn’t enjoy being “the bad guy” who punished them for disobeying and “forced” them to go to church.
But I did it anyway, because I knew the scriptural guidelines we were laying down would help protect them from the danger and devastation of sin and help them become happy, healthy, productive, godly adults. I wanted my children to experience everything good and avoid everything bad.
Many times, like my children, I’ve struggled with obedience. I become willful and rebellious. I march off in pursuit of what I know is best for me. I’m convinced I know best what will make me happy and fulfilled. Obey God? Surely he doesn’t know better than I what makes me happy.
And I’ve lived long enough to suffer the consequences of my disobedience.
“If you love me,” he calls, “keep my commandments. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And all these things (everything you need to be fulfilled) will be added to you.”
My children helped me understand why God wanted me to obey him.
2. Parenting taught me much God loves me.
Because I didn’t enjoy babysitting, I worried that I might not be a good mother. I was unprepared for the emotions that overwhelmed me following my daughter’s birth. Almost instantly, something happened that made me 100 percent mother. Fiercely protective. Sacrificially giving. Unconditionally loving. When I held my baby in my arms for the first time, I knew, should the need arise, I would die for her.
Yet I am frail, and flawed, and selfish. I’m impatient, fickle, and imperfect. I’m plagued by a sin nature, and I make mistakes. Because of my human limitations, I know the love I feel for my children is a mere whisper of the love God has for me. Loving my children gives me a glimpse of God’s heart toward his children. And toward me.
3. Parenting taught me how much my sin hurts God.
I have two amazingly wonderful daughters, but they are imperfect. Their actions have, at times, hurt my heart. How can they do this after all I’ve done for them, all I’ve sacrificed for them, all I’ve tried to teach them? I’ve wondered sadly. Don’t they know how much they’ve hurt me?
Yet I hurt my perfect, holy, loving, sacrificial Father without batting an eye. Selfishness? That’s just the way I am. Dishonesty? It was only a small lie. Neglect? I had important things to do.
It seldom enters my mind how much my sinful actions hurt God. Break his heart. Drive the cross nails a little deeper. Press the thorn crown a little harder. Because I know he will forgive me, I treat my sin casually and play the mercy card when my conscience pricks.
Feeling the pain of my children’s sin awakens me to the piercing power of my own. Father, forgive me.
Over the 30 years I've been a believer, God has revealed himself to me in many ways. Parenting has been one of them. Through the relationships I have with my children, I've learned why God wants me to obey him, how much he loves me, and how much my sin hurts him.
Next time, I'll share two more things I've learned about God through parenting. I hope you'll join me. If you haven't yet subscribed to my blog, now's a great time to do so.
What about you? If you're a parent, how has God revealed himself to you through your children. If you don't have children of your own, how has God used someone else's children to teach you something about himself? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
If you'd like to read Part II of "Five Things Parenting Taught Me About God, click HERE.
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