Sin has gripped our household this past week, blindsiding husband and me in its persistence and reminding us of how lost is the human state without saving grace. He and I have been following Jesus for so many years that we forget what it is like to walk through this world without the Holy Spirit guiding our steps, holding back our hands from temptation, and convicting us to immediate repentance when we stray.
Yet, all we need do is look at our children to get a glimpse of the soul without the Spirit's indwelling. In their young actions, I see a sincere desire to follow God's law in order to show Jesus their love for Him but an inability to control their sinful impulses. I see attempts at purity but an inability to be righteous on their own. In short, I get a front row seat to the war within their spirits, with the flesh repeatedly winning out in one area or another.
And when flesh does prevail, husband and I must do what we abhor--create consequences that hurt us to enforce simply because there is nothing good parents want more than to give their children everything in this life. Withholding mercy and open-handed benevolence simply doesn't come naturally to us who have drunk so freely from Christ's endless ocean of mercy and grace.
As I pen these words, one son is angry with me for the chosen punishment--our withdrawing family fellowship from him for a set period. As he spends the day alone in his room, he draws on the yellow legal pad an image of lightening bolts aimed at my head and grumbles to anyone who'll listen, blaming me (not his father) for catching him in the act, then enforcing the punishment.
He doesn't see me, but I cry when I hear that.
Until he grows tall, sees himself reflected in the eyes of his own children, and realizes how much this God-given task of being a parent requires, there is no way he can understand how much I would rather love than give punishment, hold tight versus push away. He has no idea how hard it is to say "no" when he asks for cuddles, "no" when he asks me to come play a game with him.
Husband said last night, "He's scared of the silence." Yes...because if you stop playing, talking, explaining, blaming...you might have to admit you screwed up big time; you might have to take responsibility for your actions; you may experience heart-breaking sorrow over your sin rather than the self-righteous anger that you've coated yourself with as tough as steel-plated armor.
One crack in the facade, and all you'll be left with is that sinking feeling you'd do most anything to avoid. This I know too well.
Last night while he slept, I crept in his room and lay down beside this tow-headed child who snored loudly in the dark. Instinctively, he rolled towards me, snuggling tight under my chin as I put my arm around him, holding him close and praying for this child whom I love more than life, itself.
I prayed against the self-reliance, the self-righteousness and the lack of repentance that I fear may blossom in his heart and bear fruit of eternal self-destruction. I prayed for his heart to grow tender to God's Word and for My Savior to become his Savior.
Then, I smoothed back his hair, kissed his brow, and silently slipped from the room.
A mother's love is boundless--in kindness, in mercy, and in strength as she teaches through consequences.
Image: A sad little boy writing a note of apology (over a month ago.)