It’s been a hard few days for one of my daughters in particular. For whatever reason, she has decided that now is an appropriate time to disregard her parents’ instructions. She is testing. Hard.
The consequences have grown increasingly severe for her and the tears have been many. The prayers by mom and dad have increased. We’ve asked lots of times, ‘How certain are we that we’re doing the right thing?’ as we try to shepherd her little heart.
We trust God to give grace through this season, as he always has when our kids have gone through stretches like this before. Each daughter is different and the disobedience of each one is different, but God’s grace has always carried us through and we believe it will this time too.
But one thing has stuck out to me through these past few days. It’s astounding to me how simple the lesson is that our daughter needs to learn. It’s as easy of a concept as they come. She can repeat it after us: It goes well for you when you obey and it goes poorly for you when you don’t.
Or, as we ask our five-year old, ‘When you disobey are you trying to be happy? Do you end up happier when you obey or when you disobey? ‘
Simple. The simplest of lessons, really. The apostle Paul even puts it this way.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (Ephesians 6:1-3 ESV)
And yet, as astounding as the simplicity of that lesson is, the hardness of a child’s heart can be equally astounding. She can repeat the words, but clearly she doesn’t get the concept. I know because she continues to do the same thing, believing somehow that this time when she disobeys, she’ll finally end up happy.
Who Should Really Know Better?
The simplest of lessons, simplest of logic… and simplest of lies. And yet, isn’t this still where I get tripped up most of the time in my own battle against sin?
I know the commands of God. I’ve preached it, taught it to my kids, and seen it in my own life more times than I can count: The way to happiness is obedience. But do I live like that’s true?
So many times, this is what I do.
- Evaluate the situation
- Consider God’s commands
- Consider that I’m probably the exception to the rule
- Determine that the real way to be happy is to follow my own rules and evaluation of things
- Experience unhappiness, repent, and swear I’ll trust God next time
It’s so simple. So easy to see. So frequently missed. May God give me grace each day to realize that the decision I’m facing today is last time’s ‘next time’ when I said I’d obey. And then, for the sake of my own happiness (and the glory of God!), by his grace, obey his commands.