Is your heart heavy for your child today? I sit by the window with my steamy cup of coffee in hand. I walk each day through these pre-teen and early teen years; it feels like a dance of wills. Raising strong independent children can be a challenge when there are still areas where I am the parent and he is the child.
My heart hangs heavy when I see pride, self interest, bitterness, lack of self control, envy, lust, discontent – the flesh – leak out of his beautiful child heart. It leaks out of my heart. And I am left breathless. Shocked. Embarrassed. The blood boils a bit. Thoughts of instant punishment comes to mind. Reactionary actions to my own anger and what feels like betrayal.
And I hear it. Loud and clear. Since they were babies. Grace. Mercy. Love. Forgive. Lead them to me. All you who are weak and heavy laden. My yoke is easy.
Mamas and Papas – are you giving your child a yoke that is heavy? Hard to pull? Impossible to go alone?
I’d like to share my week with you, starting with our church family chat on Sunday –
This Sunday we wrapped up the book of Joshua with a question of How. How do you be Strong and Courageous when facing uphill battles, enemies, and really really big changes? It’s one thing to point a person to the first chapter of Joshua and say – see? God says it over and over – BE strong and courageous. Now go. BE.
I feel this way about our home, not just as homeschoolers but as parents, of children, that constantly need gentle training. We have the voices in books and online telling us to create happy joy filled homes. Mold children that will love and serve Jesus. Train your little ones to be obedient and respectful. There are hundreds of books, thousands of web sites, probably millions of blog posts – trying to give you reasons and advice for these lofty missions. People keep telling you to Go. Do. Make your children BE. You BE so that they will follow your example. Go. Be.
But How? The book of Joshua gives us a clue – a very simple command. Study the Word. Meditate on the Word. Obey the Word.
“Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
The book of John mirrors this advice – given by Christ. The words Be Strong and Courageous are replaced by Remain. Remain in Me. Remain.
“But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. “
And I take a breath. I look at my own actions, and the actions of my boys, and look at our hearts. Are we remaining? Are we meditating? How many mornings has it been since we started our breakfast sitting in the Word? Did we prioritize Psalms over Geometry? Did we look at Proverbs over Chemistry? I can almost see the building of the outpouring of the flesh in the heart with the number of days that we have been ‘busy’.
I am thankful. So ever thankful. That when the boys were 3 and 5, someone introduced me to a resource called “For Instruction in Righteousness.” I can sit and look over the topics. A proud heart, discontent, unbelief, undisciplined life, sins of the tongue, an unloving heart, and relationships. I can scan through the outward signs of these – pride, hypocrisy, stubbornness, defiance, envy, laziness, etc. Then I can turn to find instruction. Straight from the Word.
General information and commandments about this sin. What happens or should happen to the the person with this sin. What should the person with this area do? What is the sin likened to? Stories that illustrate the consequences –from scripture. And my favorite. Blessings from the opposite. Of pride – Blessings of humility.
I find myself browsing the scriptures. Reading simple ideas to help show the issue to the child, simple loving every day consequences to help remember to put that sin off. And blessings. Leaning into the blessings of choosing the opposite. Choosing to Obey and Remain in Christ.
This week I also purchased a book titled For This is Right. Based on the 5th commandment. I found myself reading through the questions designed for older children to read through with verses to emphasis their importance.
I found myself praying over these verses. Praying. Groaning in the Spirit for my sons. Praying a hedge of protection in their hearts and minds. I only ended up sharing a couple with my sons, but I could see the heart change even before we sat down for a gentle chat.
The word is a Sword of Truth – but it should never be used as a weapon against your children. It should rightly divide truth – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15, NKJ)
With a heart full of grace and mercy for your child, share the word with them. Especially at younger ages, only you will bring them to a daily walk to daily meditate on the word and remain.
And what have we found? That in the end, the end of the day – we have Joy. A joy filled home. Joy filled children. Joy filled hearts. And a hope. A hope that this too shall pass.
Joshua 1: 6-9 NLT
6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. 8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. 9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15 – NLT