Mommy: (Picks up sippy cup for the first time)...Mommy asked you not to throw your sippy cup on the floor.
DearDaughter: (In rebellion throws sippy cup on the floor for the 2nd time...)
Mommy: (Picks up sippy cup for the second time)...Didn't Mommy just say not to throw your sippy cup on the floor? The next time you throw the sippy cup on the floor, you are going to get a spanking.
DearDaughter: (In rebellion throws sippy cup on the floor for the 3rd time...)
Mommy: (Picks up sippy cup for the third time)...Mommy just said that the next time you throw your sippy cup on the floor you are getting a spanking...(Spanks DearDaughter on the hand)...Mommy spanked you because you were disobedient and because Mommy loves you, Mommy wants you to learn what it means to be obedient and under authority. It makes Mommy sad when you are disobedient, but when you are disobedient to Mommy you are also being disobedient to God...
DearDaughter is now 19 months old. It's hard to tell when DearDaughter is just plain innocent of her disobedience or when she's truly being disobedient. Therefore, I've been praying to the Lord that He would give me wisdom about finding that balance of being understanding and overlooking DearDaughter's sins with being a shepherd and bringing DearDaughter back to the fold through discipline. Regardless of this balancing act, I've been finding that I've been confronted with many situations like the above scenario with DearDaughter lately. It seems like correction has been a never ending story in this stage of shepherding and I am always in wonder that DearDaughter still loves me.
I know that DearDaughter still loves me because DearHubby tells me that when he watches her all DearDaughter ever talks about or says is "MaMa" and then spends most of her time looking for me...or the fact that she often wants to imitate and do what I'm doing reveals DearDaughter's love or at least admiration of me...Just recently I bought myself a new pair of earrings because the pair I received at Christmas time fell apart. When DearDaughter saw the new decoration on my earlobes she pointed to her ears and wanted a pair like Mommy's.
There is a family picture above our dresser. In this picture, DearDaughter has her hand on top of mine. By this gesture, you can tell that DearDaughter has her hand there for comfort and reassurance. As I stared at this picture, I was also reminded just how much DearDaughter looks to me for comfort, protection, love, et...everything a Mommy should give to her child...
Then, a revelation came to me...Children are such precious gifts from God because their relationship to us is a reflection of our relationship to our Father...I thought about how much DearDaughter loves me and yet despite her great love and admiration for me she still disobeys me. Isn't that so much like us and how we treat our Heavenly Father? Despite our love for God and our desire to want to imitate Him, we still sin against him by our disobedience!
Then, I thought about our role as parents...We are called to shepherd our children, to teach them, and to exemplify for them godliness. That is exactly what God does for us as our Father. He shepherds, teaches, disciplines, and exemplifies for us godliness through His Word and His living Word, His only son Jesus Christ. He teaches us what is not pleasing to Him and He teaches us what is pleasing to Him...When we are disobedient, we are disciplined (not punished), usually by some sort of hardship so that we are led back to trusting in God. (Yet, sometimes by His mercy, God spares us His rod of discipline and by His grace allows us much success from our decisions, only to remind us of His great love and graciousness.)
When looking at our children in this light, that they are a reflection of our own relationship with our Heavenly Father, it gives me great delight to think about the privilege AND responsibility we have as parents to reflect who our Heavenly Father is to our children. It's such a huge task, especially since we are sheep ourselves under the shepherding of our Father, yet it is also a comfort to know that the hope of our shepherding doesn't come from our own knowledge and wisdom, but that it is already written in His Word and that we should be all the more diligent and passionate about knowing and enjoying our God.