Friday, September 22, 2006

Do They Ever Learn?

Our old couch in the basement is completely ripped and the stuffing is almost gone. I can live with that in the basement and the kids are free to use it as a trampoline, coloring book, snacking spot, balance beam or fort. But now, the upstairs couches are ripping. (Mike warned me not to buy cotton furniture again, but did I listen?) Today Annie was picking the stuffing out of a rip in our love seat. I told her no and she kept doing it. The punishment escalated at each offense and that didn't phase her. She just looked at me with her big brown eyes and went right ahead. This continued for a while. Finally, she relented and came crying to my lap. It's hard to imagine what must be going through their little heads when they do that. You would think they would just stop!

I've always thought the same thing about the Israelites in the Old Testament. They continue to walk away from God time after time, miracle after miracle. Exodus 16 is full of complaining, grumbling and disobeying. They had just been freed from slavery! (I boastfully believe that if I would have seen Him part the Red Sea I never would have wandered.) Yet he always takes them back, forgives them and helps them. I assumed God was way to soft on these idiots! Will they never learn to just follow God? But God's mercy and compassion is always there when they repent and turn back.

So, even today with Annie and the couch, when she came crying back to me I took her up in my arms and hugged her. Certainly it didn't stop me from caring for and loving her - although I was not going to stand by and let her rip my couch to shreds either! And that's the beauty of having God as an example. His mercy, grace and compassion knows no bounds. He had rules for his people, but when they repented he welcomed them back.

Sometimes it seems easier to just let my kids get away with things than using up all my energy constantly correcting them. But God demanded repentance and obedience from his people too. I think it's funny that he calls them "stiff-necked" because that kind of reminds me of a toddler and quite frankly, myself. But I think it is important for my kids to see their need for repentance, then they will experience that grace and compassion.

We have dealt with more serious issues than some stuffing from a couch already with our kids, but I'm sure as they grow the issues will get bigger and harder. But with God as our Father, his compassion and grace can overflow through us and into our kids. Even when we are fed up and feel like they will never learn, when God brings them to repentance we can be there with open arms.

And really, how could we not? I don't really like to admit all the times I have walked away from God. And yet, his love and compassion are abundant in my life. That's a lesson I need to use in my parenting!

Exodus 34:8-11

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. "O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance." Then the Lord said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites."

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