Being a parent has been a great asset to my Christian growth. God has taught me so much about Himself, about me, and about others through the parenting relationship.
For example, the agony of a child who is determined to go his or her own way...
Psalm 81:11 "But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me."
Have you ever dealt with a child who was absolutely set on doing what he or she wanted in spite of your counsel or even your direct command? If you have children or if you minister to children you have experienced it. As a parent, it's frustrating. You give your best for your child. You train them, provide for them, and guide them out of love. But when your command goes against their will, you are suddenly seen as the enemy. There are times when you restrain the child, and then there are times to back off and let them go their own way so that they face the consequences of their choices.
Psalm 81:12 "So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels."
How painful it is to have to back off and let them go down a wrong path! As a parent, my heart breaks to see my children suffer things that they would not have had to suffer had they simply listened to parental guidance, instruction, or command. This morning as I read Psalm 81, my heart broke over one word. The tears began flowing. I have uttered this word in my heart over my own children, and yet here I found God giving the same cry over me!
Psalm 81:13 "Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!"
He cried out in agony over His people Israel in this Psalm. He had been so good to them. He had provided, protected, and loved. He warned them and commanded them so that they would travel down a safe, blessed, and fruitful path, yet they refused to listen. He had to back off and let them go down their own path. It was agonizing to Him. He cried out, "Oh!"
When my children do the same thing, it is a heavy and painful weight in my heart. I don't want to see them fail. I don't want to see them hurt. I want to see them safe, blessed, and fruitful. And my heart cries out, "Oh!"
What really broke my heart this morning is the thought of Him crying out over me, "Oh!" When I go my own way and refuse to listen to Him, He feels it. My Father agonizes over my wrong choices. The thought of that restrains me. It makes me think twice about how badly I want my own way.
Then as I read on in Psalm 81, God explained all the things He desired to do for His people, Israel. He wanted to bless them and help them, but their foolish choices restrained His hand. And He cried, "Oh!"
How many times I must have made Him cry out! How many times my foolish choices must have restrained His hand! How many battles I must have gone through unnecessarily because I simply would not follow His lead!
I find myself crying out, "Oh that I would not break His heart and make Him cry out it agony because of my pride and self-will!"
May I be fully surrendered today to His will, His command, His counsel, His voice.