Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pity In A Father's Heart

"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him."
Psalm 103:13

More lessons are caught than taught.

Actions speak louder than words.

Example is a language anyone can read...
even a child....
especially a child.

The mind of a child is like a thirsty sponge...
lapping up every aspect of life around them....
even when we think they aren't listening...
or noticing...
many times, it is especially then...
that they are absorbing the most.

Being a parent or guardian over a child
is undoubtedly one of the biggest responsibilities there is.
Knowing we are directly accountable to God
for not only their physical well-being,
but more importantly their spiritual upbringing...
is a very weighty challenge.

As Zachary sees us doing and walking the road of life
each and every day,
I pray God lets him glean spiritual insight,
not only by what we say to him,
not only by the audible instruction of "dos" and "don'ts" we dish out,
but by our example most of all.

Recently, we were on a trip,
and he had a huge mishap in the car.
It created quite a mess.
I was driving at the time,
so Kevin was in the passenger seat up front.
The mess reached his side of the car,
or should I say him....
and he had to deal with it and its aftermath
in a much bigger way than I did.

It was pretty bad.

As it was happening,
right after the worst of it,
I was just about to speak to Zachary.
The words were right there...
ready to be spewed.
Hadn't we just had a conversation about
this very thing?
Hadn't we told him not to do it?
Now, he had gone against our wishes,
and the result was disastrous.

Right before I opened my mouth,
I happened to glance in the rear view mirror.

I am eternally thankful that I did.

What I saw hit me like a ton of bricks....
made me stop in my tracks....
before I scolded,
before I said a word.

The look on Zach's face was indescribable.
It was like he realized exactly what he had done,
the instant it happened...
but it was too late.

He was sorry.
He regretted it.
And though he knew he had disobeyed,
he didn't mean for this to happen.

He looked toward his Daddy with the most
agonized look...
it was like he was holding his breath...
pleading for mercy...
dreading the worst...
in that critical moment.

"Daddy, I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to."
His voice elevated higher,
became more earnest,
with each syllable.

My first thoughts were,
"This child is going to remember this moment for the rest of his life.
Not so much the mess he made,
but our reaction to it.
What we do right now,
in these next few minutes
is going to stay with him forever.
He will grow up and discuss it with his wife one day.
What will he say?
He will learn a lesson that he will repeat with his own children
He will perpetuate our actions...and our reactions.
What will he imitate?
This is crucial...critical....unforgettable...irreparable.
This moment matters....a lot."

The weightiness of what to do overwhelmed me.

We were in a quandary.
We had told him to be careful.
We had warned him not to do what he just did.
Since we have lived a long time
and made plenty of messes of our own,
we knew what would happen.

He thought he knew best...
so he proceeded....
to do the exact opposite of what we had told him to do.

Needless to say,
both Kevin and I were feeling pretty frustrated...

I'm glad I looked in the mirror before I spoke.
I'm glad I saw what I saw...
I'm thankful I witnessed what was in his brown eyes...
before I uttered my "I told you so".

So, what to do?
We couldn't just let him slide,
with no word of rebuke...
especially since he had openly disobeyed.

The disobedience factor had to be corrected and dealt with.
Yet, we didn't want to over-react and say...
much less do....
 things we would forever regret.

I had no clue what to say...
didn't know what to do.
I always stand by my man.
That isn't optional.
Kevin had just told Zach a few minutes before
not to do what he just did.
Yet, my mother-heart went out to Zach...
with a million degrees of love...
and understanding...
and forgiveness.

Since I had no idea,
I remained quiet...
and didn't say a word...
for fear I would say and do the wrong thing.

Inside, I did the only thing that helps.

I prayed.

I begged God for wisdom.
He saw all three of our hearts...
and our predicament.

He is so faithful.

He quickly gave the requested wisdom.

Kevin handled it with more grace than I could imagine.
He really did.

He talked to Zach.

He didn't yell...
even though he was very much inconvenienced by
what just happened,
and we ended up having to stop the car to deal with it.

It wasn't easy for him to stay calm.
But, God gave grace...and wisdom.
I'm so glad He did.

I told Zachary later that he should really thank God for his Daddy.
That a lot of men would not have reacted the way he did.
I knew both sides.
I saw Zach's face,
and I knew what Kevin was feeling.
I felt sorry for both of them...
and I hoped for the best possible outcome.

It is in those times that we can most
prove our love to our children.
It is during those pivotal moments of truth
that they come to realize that our love for them
is not based on their behavior.
And even though there are repercussions for wrongdoing,
and even though they must be corrected,
we love them...

As a parent,
you can tell when your child reaches that point of realization...
that they did wrong...
when their will breaks...
and they regret their actions.
Many times, that in itself is punishment enough.
To overcompensate and add more, at that point, would be completely unwise.

Every child is different.

There were nine children in Mom's family.
She used to tell me that Papaw said every one
of his children was different from the others.
From their mannerisms
to the most effective form of discipline they required,
they were unique.

We are blessed that Zachary is very tender-hearted.
If he thinks he has hurt one of us or let us down,
he is very quick to admit his wrong
and humble himself.
I have learned that most of the time with him,
that is the only correction he needs.
When he reaches that point of taking responsibility for his own wrongs,
the lesson has been learned in that particular situation,
and the best thing for us to do is to pick up the pieces and go on.

God has many children.
We are all different.
We all have our own personalities,
unique dispositions,
and individual make-ups.
Some of our wills break easily.
The volume of the wake-up call has to be
much louder for others of us.
It takes much more extreme measures for some of us
to acknowledge our wrongdoings, faults, and shortcomings than others

God knows us...individually.
He knows that one size does not fit all.
What works for me, may not work for you at all.
And vice-versa.

So, He deals with each of us in the most effective way,
and He always loves us.
He never stops.
No matter what we do.
Our behavior has no impact on His love.

Even when we are walking in open rebellion to His will,
the distance between us and Him is never too far.

Nothing can or ever will separate us from His love.

And even though our actions are not without repercussions,
they are mingled with the mercy of our loving Father.

As I saw the pain and remorse in Zach's eyes,
God sees our regret before we utter the words,
"I'm sorry."

He knows the instant we reach the point of acknowledgement...
that we have done wrong.
He understands the way we punish ourselves,
beat ourselves up,
and wish we could go back and do things over.
His mercy propels Him to forgive us.
His forgiveness provides us a clean slate...
to do things differently the next time.

How often through life have you willfully taken the wrong path,
even after He warned you not to,
regretted it the minute the deed was done,
then turned to face Him with shame
only to be met with the welcoming embrace of His open arms?

How often have I?

Too often than I care to admit...
or even remember.

It is in the moments that follow our acts of disobedience...
in those times that we completely deserve punishment....
during those situations in which we have most earned His wrath...
that He most proves to us His love.

That's what grace is all about.

Such is the love and pity in a father's heart.

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