Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Little Glimpse

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

Yesterday I had an encounter with my oldest son that spoke so clearly to my heart about the essence of the gospel. He had been playing outside with some of his buddies next door and he was just having a hard afternoon. There was lots of coveting, lots of wanting his own way and lots of fighting over the beloved dump trucks. I finally told him, after a few talks, that he just needed to come home. Our rule is simply: If you can't play nice, you can't play.

I found him a little while later laying on the ground in the backyard with his face buried in the ground. I asked him what was wrong and he answered, "When you told me I couldn't play, you hurt my feelings." Ah--hurt his feelings huh? No, I don't think so. He wasn't angry but just sad. He was trying not to cry. I saw very quickly that what he was feeling was guilt. I grabbed his hand and led him inside to talk about what was going on.

As I headed inside, I quickly prayed for wisdom. I had no idea what to say to this oldest child of mine, who was struggling with his sins so much that it was eating away at him inside. I knew that this was a parenting moment that I must seize and use as a teaching time but I had no idea how to do it. How do I explain to my nearly five year old the more abstract elements sin, what it does to our hearts and how repenting brings us back into fellowship? Help!!

You see, we're just getting to the point in our parenting with him that things aren't nearly so black and white anymore. He knows he is to obey and he knows what our rules are. That groundwork has been laid during the first five years of his life. Not that he complies all of the time but the boundaries have been set-up and he knows where they are. But now, things start to get more gray and as he gets older, we'll just continue to let out the rope bit by bit in the hopes that as we point him in the right direction, he'll choose to continue on in it. In essence, we have to start teaching him to apply all that we've tried to instill in him since he was a toddler.

I sat him down and bumbled through trying to tell him that he felt bad because he had sinned. And that God has given us a conscience (and the Holy Spirit when we're saved) that points us in the right direction. When we do something wrong, it tells us. I'm sure he's felt this guilt before but hadn't ever been able to really understand what it was let alone verbalize it.

I had no idea how to explain all of this to him and really fell all over myself. But then I remembered the foundation. Yes, the foundation and amidst my fears, I started to relax. See for five years now we've been working to harness his will, get him to trust us, teach him obedience and show him how to repent. Why? Are we just overbearing parents? No...we've wanted to instill the process of repentance in him so that it becomes like the air he breathes. Why? Because it's the essence of the gospel-it's the very basis of salvation. Has he really understood all of that? Some of it, yes. But probably not all of it. Yet we've done it anyway. It's been practice. It's been a lot of you crossed the line, here's the consequence and you ask us, your parents, and God for forgiveness. And then you're clean. We move on in fellowship. That's how we do it in life; this is how life works. And in that, we've definitely seen heart change. Nevertheless, yesterday was the first time I saw him walk through this process on his own.

After talking about how he had sinned and that's why he felt so bad, we then talked about how to repent to come back into fellowship with his friends. Because he's used to repenting (even if it didn't always mean something before), this wasn't strange to him. As he trudged next-door, he had a hard time getting the words out, but I could tell this time he really meant what he was saying.

This little event yesterday spoke volumes to me. My oldest son hasn't arrived...not even close. We haven't arrived as parents at all either. In fact, we often wonder what we're doing and how to deal with the daily issues that come up in our home in a godly way. Sometimes, with God's help, we get it right. Yet we often fail miserably. But yesterday afternoon, I saw God doing His work in my little son's heart and was amazed at the outcome.

Seeing all of this also spoke so clearly to me about the gospel. Being sorrowful over our sins is the first step and this leads to repentance. How we want to be in fellowship!! Practicing this process with our kids is so key to them understanding life, relationships and most importantly salvation. I guess I've known this in my head all along but actually seeing it and watching it work, really impressed it upon my heart. And having this idea reinforced at church, at school and amongst other friends is really a blessing that I shouldn't take for granted.

How do we parent? How do we point our children to Christ? We're still figuring this out day by day. And really, we've already made so many mistakes I can only ask God for the grace to cover us. But despite all of that, I thank God that He gave me that little glimpse yesterday. What a reminder to me in my own life, "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." Amen and amen.

1 comment:

  1. yeah for isaac! i love the first awareness of the holy spirit conversations, so encouraging for the parent.