I have a child, a young child, who is currently actively rebelling and deceiving me daily.
It breaks my heart to watch it happen over and over again, even in the face of constant correction. Sure, she’s very young – not even a teenager – and so her mistakes are small in the grand scheme of things, but sneaky deception and disobedience are not small issues, even if it just involves hiding her toys that she was playing with when she was supposed to be cleaning her room. No matter what her age or offense, watching your child do these things is always crushing. But I get an opportunity NOW, while she’s very young, to tackle some of these issues at their root, before she becomes a chronically lying young adult like her mom was at one time. I have been convinced, up to this point, that she is a born-again Christian, so my tactics with her can be very specific to a baby believer.
At first, I lay in my bed mulling over what this meant about me.
“How could she do this to me when she sees it upsets me every time?”
“Does she not care about her parents?”
“Am I just a terrible disciplinarian?”
“Where have I failed?” etc.
But if you ask yourself these questions when your child struggles in an ongoing sin, you’re probably missing the mark. Sure, as a parent, it’s important to make sure we’re setting a good example, leading in Scripture and prayer, and being consistent, loving, and patient, but the truth is, your child isn’t sinning because he doesn’t love you.
Your child doesn’t love God.
Not like she should.
It hit me, as I prayed and mulled and thought last night over discipline tactics, that nothing was quite right. I thought about assigning her Bible verses to write and/or memorize on truthfulness and obedience. I thought about taking away any TV watching for a week. I thought about giving her more chores. But everything felt so superficial, like they were tedious activities that wouldn’t actually speak to her heart. Yes, she needs to have a consequence for her ongoing disobedience, but then what is the training I can start to incorporate?
The root problem is that she doesn’t know God enough to be intimately in love with Him and want to obey Him.
That hurting Him breaks her heart and that His commands are precious to her, like gold and silver. (Psalm 119:127).
You say, RJ, this is a big task. I, as an adult, don’t even love God like I should, or want to obey Him like I should. I know! Me too!
So maybe, in preaching to her, I can preach to myself.
The first book I thought of, that really cultivated a love for God in me, a book that spoke so highly of God, His character, His plans, and His love for me, and my should-be love for Him, is Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Because He Loves Me – a fantastic book that describes the high grandeur of the gospel in new ways you’ve never thought of. Makes you truly love God for who He is and what He has done!
But much of the writing might go over my little one’s head. How does one cultivate a high view of and passion for God in an young child? Or an elementary student? Why is almost nothing written to kids that give them a higher view of God?
I’ll never, ever forget what my best friend in CA told me while I was out visiting her last month. She said, “The thing I can’t stand about most Sunday schools and programs for Christian kids is that it revolves around the child. That they are the center of the universe and God just wants to dote on them and love them and that they are just perfectly wonderful little balls of perfection. That, from a young age, we aren’t showing kids that they’re one cog in the great wheel of God’s plan. That He’s sovereign and powerful and mighty. That He demands our obedience, and we are desperate sinners, but He loves us immensely. That we are called to love and pursue Him and have a relationship with Him.”
Our children’s faith can be so intellectual. So rote. So tedious. So dry.
Our relationship with God, even as children, shouldn’t be dry.
Who among us has seen a child light up with absolute passionate wonder at a fireworks display? When meeting Santa Claus? When seeing a magic trick? When decorating the Christmas tree?
There is so much wonder and awe in children, and yet it is either snuffed out, or completely ignored when it comes to the most Wonderful Being in the universe: their God and Savior.
So, as of this moment, I’m ditching all of my other writing projects for this new one. I had so little motivation lately anyway, and maybe this is why. I’m writing a pamphlet. A booklet. For my child. For me. And maybe for your child too. And it’s going to be on the amazing wonder that is our God, and the fact that we get to love Him! Like Elyse’s book, it will be on how the cross is applicable to daily life, but it will be in the language of children.
Pray for me and my children. I will pray for yours! Pray that this is a God-led project that I can do to benefit and convict and excite and cultivate God’s love, not only in my daughters, but in myself even more and more!
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” Philippians 1:9