“Just go to sleep!” I whispered with frustration while rocking my 5 month old, desperately attempting to soothe him into his morning nap (which was way overdue, anyway). I knew that my son would feel better with a nap. I knew that I knew what was best for him. However, he struggled, whined, stretched, and resisted my attempts to rock him to sleep. This exhausting process got me thinking about God’s relationship with His children.
There truly is a reason God refers to Himself as our “Father”. Parenthood is without a doubt the most accurate metaphor to illustrate the relationship between God and us. I know I am biased because I am a mom of two; however, I honestly believe that one of the reasons the Lord allows us to bear children is to more fully understand His love, struggles, and interactions with us as His kids.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)
God knows what is best for us. However, we, in our naïveté, choose to resist His guidance on a regular basis; we choose to sin. We boldly proclaim through our actions and disobedience that we, in fact, know better than He does and that our choices will yield better results for us. When our foolishness leads to destruction, we open our eyes to the fact that our Father truly does know better and that we should have listened to His steady, unwavering guidance from the beginning.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)
When it comes to my 3 year old, he not only resists but when I force him to follow my directions, he becomes upset. Am I displaying immense cruelty toward him when I make him take a nap, eat something other than snacks, or engage in activities besides watching Thomas the Train movies all day? Is my motive to be heartless and make him unhappy? Of course not! My motive is to help him become the best he can be as he grows.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“God, why can’t I get drunk with my friends? Why do you want to take that fun part of my life away from me?” (Ephesians 5:18) “Why can’t I sleep with my boyfriend? Are you trying to ruin our intimacy, Lord?” (1 Corinthians 6:18) “Why must I resist overindulgence? Are you trying to take away my ability to eat what I desire in excess because you just can’t stand my being so satisfied?” (Proverbs 23:20-21) “Why can’t I act on my homosexual desires? Aren’t you supposed to believe in ‘love’?” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
We as God’s children many times absolutely detest when He says no, but we can better understand His reasoning for saying no by, again, looking at our own interactions with our children. When the Father says “No!”, it is like us telling a small child to not touch a hot stove or stick a fork into an electrical socket. It may seem like a great idea to the kid at the time, but the aftermath isn’t pretty.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
What happens when a child insists on doing something against his or her parent’s will? For example, what if my son insists on running in socks despite my warnings and instruction to stop? Sometimes, at that point it is time for discipline, and other times (as horrible as this may sound), it is time for natural consequences. If I give him a final warning to stop running and he doesn’t quit, what will most likely happen? He will fall.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 (ESV)
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7 (ESV)
When he falls, he is experiencing what happens when he decides to disobey my instruction. But do you want to know the beautiful part that, again, corresponds to God’s relationship with us? Just as I open my arms to receive my child when he cries out and runs to me after experiencing a “fall”, Jesus receives us with open arms and grace when we fall in our faith. He doesn’t shake his finger and scold us, saying, “I told you so! I won’t comfort you!” just as we wouldn’t treat our children that way. He extends grace and mercy to us despite the circumstances because we have reached out in repentance.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (ESV)
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 (ESV)
So next time it seems like God is trying to keep you from enjoying life by reaching out to something enticing and seemingly good, realize that He may be keeping your delicate fingers away from the blue-hot flame of a stove. In His effort to protect you, He doesn’t care if He looks like the “bad guy” at the time. He loves you so much and cares so deeply for you that He is willing to take your tantrum. Be encouraged with the knowledge that God is your Heavenly Dad, all-knowing, all-powerful. If you let Him guide your path, He will guide you to safety, joy, and deep satisfaction in Him. How do I know?
Trust me. I am a mom.