I’m going to share a true story here. It involves our older son Seann and his one year old baby daughter Alison. In truth, I would be sharing this story no matter who the two people in the story were.
At a recent Gathering (home church meeting) at our house Alison was crawling around being a normal infant. She found someone’s purse and stuck her hand inside. I saw her do it and then looked to him. He was watching her and when she put her hand inside that purse he snapped his fingers.
She looked right at him when he did that and he shook his head “no”. She immediately stopped what she was doing and then crawled right to him and raised her arms. He picked her up and she cuddled with him. He told her to not mess with other people's stuff and then she got down and crawled off to do something else.
There is so much in this simple story for us to see. First off, the father was watching.
“For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21 - NASB)
A big task for dads is to exemplify the Father in heaven to children so that when they receive Jesus as their Lord they will also receive God as their Father. One thing the Father does is watch us; His eyes are ever on us.
Then Seann got Alison’s attention. She responded because of the grace he has to be her father and the grace she has to be his daughter.
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:7-8 - NASB)
Our son disciplined our granddaughter. It was a very mild discipline, to be sure because she is very young and what she did wasn’t dangerous to her; as she gets older his discipline of her will change to match her age, her ability to understand and the severity of her actions.
His discipline consisted of an attention getter, a rebuke, a teaching and an assurance of love. What touched me most as I watched this process was that upon being rebuked by her daddy, Alison went directly to him expecting to receive affection from him – which she received from him.
Were it not Seann’s and Stacy’s practice to watch their daughters, get their attention, correct them and love on them, they would eventually develop a hunger for this because God has designed parents and children to interact like that. If they neglected them like this it would be as though they considered them to be illegitimate children. The fruit of a lifetime of that kind of neglect is insecurity. Since our son and daughter-in-law do discipline our grandchildren I expect them both to develop a healthy God consciousness and to be secure young ladies as they grow up. Indeed, Emily, their five year old is a very secure and adventurous child.
“Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:9-10 - NASB)
I said earlier that the parent / child relationship was designed to be a training ground: “A big task for dads is to exemplify the Father in heaven to children so that when they receive Jesus as their Lord they will also receive God as their Father.”
There are so many forces at work on the earth that come against this relationship that the Father wishes to have with us. In the realm of parenting these include passivity, abuse, neglect and permissiveness as parenting styles. The most tragic, though, is a huge lack in the area of teaching children about our Father in heaven.
Adults often will find themselves being disciplined by the Father….Christians and non-Christians alike and will not know it is His discipline and will fight against it, a consequence to never having been taught about the heavenly Father by their parents.
In Ephesians the Apostle Paul begins a prayer like this: “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…” (Ephesians 3:14-15). In other words, God is Father to ALL people who ever were.
(This is one crucial reason it is so tragic when people choose hell and eternal separation from their Father in heaven by refusing to do as He has commanded us all: receive Jesus as our Lord.)
I believe that when God the Father disciplines us He is trying to do the very same thing with us that Seann did with little Alison. He is trying to get our attention, rebuke us, teach us and assure us of His love.
It is my hope that what was said here will encourage us to turn to Him when we are being disciplined so we can receive what we need to receive and allow Him to love on us.
I hope it will encourage all of us who are physical and spiritual parents to actively and prayerfully engage with our children.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverb 22:6)
I hope it will also encourage us to not just tolerate but to come to LOVE the Father's discipline in our lives.