Monday, June 24, 2013

Like a 3 Year Old - The Glory of God in Foster Care

Last Sunday, a couple of hours before we were to leave for church, Little Miss (our 3 year old foster daughter) stated, "I'm ready to go to church." I said, "We will in a couple hours." She responds, "I gotta put my church clothes on." So we play and hang out all morning, then about 30 minutes before we leave, I tell her that she needs to get dressed for church. "No," she said. Those of you with children at this age know that "no" is said freely and often. So I gave my usual response, which is something like, "Yes ma'am, we are going to put our church clothes on, we don't tell adults no." She then throws herself on the ground. I then say, "If you aren't standing up and putting your clothes on by the count of three, you're going to timeout. She slowly gets up, but when I get to three she says, "No, I don't want to." With that began a 15 minute fight to get her to do a three minute timeout where she stands in the corner and faces the wall with no screaming, crying, hitting things, or laying down. To be transparent, I was really pretty frustrated at the whole thing. I was thinking to myself, "Why did she throw that fit, when I know that she enjoys getting dressed up in her 'pretty dresses' to go to church and see our friends and play in the nursery? And on top of that, why won't she just take the discipline (three minutes of standing in the corner with no crying) so she can get out and be done with it? I wish she knew that I'm doing this for her own good, that she will learn to be obedient and respectful."

I then started thinking about how this played out much like my relationship with God plays out. As my Father, He wants me to love Him above else and serve Jesus as Lord and Savior. In doing that daily, I should live selflessly, sacrificially, loving others, taking up my cross, bearing others burdens, all in worship to glorify God our Father in Christ through the enabling power of the Spirit. Yet I screw up and drop the ball all the time. And not just well-intended mistakes where I tried really hard but just couldn't, but childish and selfish mistakes. I also look at circumstances where I either don't get what I want, or not in the time and place that I demand it, and (both figuratively and occasionally literally) cry and throw fits. Then, when discipline comes my way in order to test, shape, mold, teach, and sanctify me, I STILL resist and throw more fits. Instead of realizing that as believers that we are being disciplined because the Lord loves us and wants nothing more than to conform us into the image of His son, Jesus Christ, that we may have a more perfect communion with Him. Hebrews 12:7-11 (ESV) attests to this: "It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Praise God that even when I don't want it, He loves me enough to strengthen me to persevere, that at the end of the day, "My soul makes its boast in the LORD." Psalm 34:2 (ESV)

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