"You must understand this, my beloved; let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;"
James 1:9 (NRSV)
Prodigal Thoughts: Parenting is not for the weak-at-heart. I know I’m not a perfect person by any means. That I fully and freely admit. As the days pass and my children continue to grow into young men and women, I am faced with parts of myself that I don’t particularly like (as far as character or habits are concerned). Some of you know that my wife and I have four children. Currently, one is a teenager and the other three are tweens. Some days are quite the challenge. But the challenge isn’t that they are horrible children. It’s just the opposite. These children are really good kids. As parents, we see two sides of the coin. We see and can relate to the struggles that our kids face since we were kids once, but at the same time, we have an additional perspective of being parents and guardians, trying to provide instruction in guiding them toward being not just "good people" but devoted followers of Jesus. There is another perspective that I have had and continue to face through this parenting journey. That perspective is how much God loves us and yet allows us to have free will to choose our own path. He loves us and He deeply hopes that we will turn our lives over to Him and follow Jesus. Just as our hearts are often broken by the actions or words of our children, so is the heart of the Father when we choose to go astray. About a decade ago, I wasn’t the best father by any means, but by the grace of God and a lot of tough love from those around me, God got my attention and I have been doing all I can to surrender daily so that God can reshape who I am as a husband, father, and follower of Jesus Christ. In the Christian denomination I am a member of, when we baptize a younger person, part of the responsibility is placed on the members of the church in that we will band together and help to encourage and foster the spirit of God in the lives of those who believe in Jesus and receive Him as their Savior. I’ve heard it said many times over that those that are closest to you are likely to hurt you the most. I wish that were not true. But when our hearts break, may we be quick to listen rather than quick to fly off the handle. May we choose our words very carefully so that they promote growth and life rather than cut others down and grow frustration. I know that our heavenly Father knows all about being frustrated at a people that mumble and grumble, or intentionally do the opposite of what is holy. He doesn’t rain down fire on us, but He does shower us with grace and mercy. He forgives us and continues to love us even though we don’t really deserve that kind of love.
Prayer for today: Father, I love You and thank You for being such an amazing and wonderful Daddy to Your children. Thank You for loving us when we don’t seem very loveable. May You grow us, mature us to be better stewards of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as the blade of a sword must be tempered in order to become strong for battle, may we grant You permission to temper and shape our hearts into hearts like Yours. We need You more than ever. I love You, Papa. Amen.
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God’s grace on you…