When my older daughter started talking, I don’t think she stopped until she turned fifteen. She would talk about anything and everything under the sun. On more than one occasion, I asked her firmly to stop talking because my ears were hurting. As a mother, I recognized it was important to her development for her to exercise this ‘muscle’ that seemed to be so large, but it tested my patience to let her use it. She matured into a bright and vivacious young woman who now uses her words to bless those around her.
My younger daughter tested me in different ways. As a child, she was more subtle, more cunning and much quieter than her sister. She was my cuddler and often attempted to use her gift to me to accomplish her agenda. She tested my ability to remain an objective parent and not fall into her charming traps. When she didn’t get what she wanted, she made sure I knew she was unhappy. She matured into a sensitive and empathic young woman with a heart of gold and an artistic flair for life.
I wonder what it means to God as my parent to raise me from a freshly forgiven child into a mature and fully formed spiritual adult? Does He get the thrill and satisfaction I get when I see my children become the self-confident adults I hoped they would become? Does He feel the same heartache I feel when I see my children struggle and sometimes fail in their quest to be who they want to be?
One of the roles in parenting I liked least was making sure my girls followed through on the instructions I gave them. Ragging on a ten-year-old was not my idea of fun. I used several approaches to teach them the importance of doing as I said when I said it. None of them really worked. I grew up doing a list of chores, but I never instituted that system with my children. It never seemed practical. Or workable. My children were so different from each other and from me, cooperation was very difficult to achieve. They approached cleaning up from very different perspectives, one of them getting so distracted that she rarely finished the effort. Yes, I could have been much more diligent in my parenting, but somehow they grew up to be responsible, self-supporting adults in spite of me.
Thankfully, my Heavenly Father is the perfect parent. He does not grow weary in directing my growth process. He knows precisely what I need when I need it to help me mature in my faith. He knows when I need to rest and when I need to be working. He knows what works for me in my maturing process is usually different from what works for others. His goal is to see me make my eternal home with Him, successfully withstanding every challenge and threat Satan throws my way.
One of the ways God seeks to mature me is in my ability to respond to His directions, to obey, to seek His will and then do it. To choose to be His hands and feet on earth. To follow through with my desire to serve Him. So often, too often, I ask God to show me what to do next, to guide my steps, to give me direction, and I fail to listen or I fail to follow through. Sometimes, I don’t like what He is asking me to do and I suggest He let someone else do it, someone else who I think would be more suitable for the task. Sometimes, I don’t understand why He would want me to accomplish a certain task He puts on my heart. It makes no sense, so I dismiss it. Sometimes, I am so wrapped up in my own agenda that I do not hear His request.
I miss many opportunities for spiritual growth because I am not paying attention or I don’t want to know what God’s direction is. When trouble comes, though, I end up back on my knees asking God to lead me out of it. I find it hard to discern His voice from all the other noise in my life, though, because I am out of practice listening to Him. I am out of practice following through on His direction. My desire to please Him feels stale because I have been so lax in caring about what He wants.
So, my prayer is this: Heavenly Father, show me Your will for this day. Put on my heart what You want me to do and how You want me to do it. And bother me until I do it.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139: 23, 24
All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.