He makes all things new
I crushed a little spirit this morning.
Oh his face - the look on his beautiful eight-year old face told me everything I needed to know. I came down too hard. I crushed Cal’s spirit.
Colossians 3:21 (MSG)
Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.
"Guys, please get your shoes and jackets. We’re gonna be late for school if we don’t hussle." I said it in my sweetest mommy voice.
Cal didn’t listen.
A moment later I asked again. This time louder and a little less sweetly.
Still, he didn't listen.
So I asked again, louder, as he bounced the basketball and pretended not to hear me.
And then it happened. I could feel it- the anger rising. I acted as if his disrespect was a personal attack on my whole worth as a human being.
“LISTEN! TO! ME!!!! WHY WON'T YOU LISTEN TO ME????”
Imagine a three-year old temper tantrum. I had one.
Cal turned to face me. He dropped the basketball, eyes filling with tears. A spirit crushed.
He whispered - "I don't know mom."
Moments earlier this same precious boy volunteered to read our morning devotional. He read from the same amazing children’s devotional we read from every morning- "Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing" by Sally-Llyod Jones. Oh how I adore this devotional!
The message today was entitled “Far, Far Away” and the verse was Psalm 103:12.
Psalm 103:12 (NLT)
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
When Cal was done reading the devotional, Brennan, my five-year old who is full of wonderful questions, asked, “How far is the east from the west?”
Cal was the first to answer. He stretched his arms as far as he could reach. “It's really, really far. So far that God can't see our sin anymore.”
That was the last thing Cal had done before I asked them to get ready to leave for school.
The conviction hit me to the core. Yes Cal disobeyed me. Yes Cal disrespected me. And yes there should be a conversation about what was going on in his heart, and perhaps he should be given consequences. But that wasn't the point in this precise moment. The point was - his disobedience didn't warrant my response.
And my response definitely wasn't going to lead Cal to a repentant heart.
If I know anything it's this: It's the kindness of the Lord, not the wrath and anger of the Lord, that leads to repentance.
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
When Jesus disciplines us He is not trying to show us who's boss. He’s desiring to lovingly rescue us from ourselves.
Why would we do any differently with our kids?
I got on my knees so I could look directly into Cal’s eyes:
"Mommy should not have yelled at you. It’s never okay to talk to you that way. I'm not excusing your choices. I'm only saying that when you disrespect me and ignore my instructions, I should not treat you as I did. I'm sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?"
Then I moved to the couch and asked all three boys to join me in prayer. We were now late for school but it didn't matter.
Only this mattered:
Repentance. Forgiveness. Restored relationship.
I asked each one to pray. Cal thanked Jesus for our family. He named each one of us. And he thanked Jesus for all the “amazing gifts” He’s given us. Brennan thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins and for always giving us “do -overs.” And he thanked Jesus for “always being with us even in the hard stuff.” Three-year old Owen only wanted to dig through his brother’s backpacks.
It was my turn. What would I say? "Lord give me the right words."
And so I prayed, in more words or less…..
“Lord, I need you. If I want these boys to know anything - at all - about me, it's that I need you - every moment of every day. I yelled at Cal this morning for not listening to me and now I’m reminded - How often do I not listen to you Jesus? Every day I find new ways to choose my way over yours. My will over yours. But you never lose your patience with me. Lord forgive me for not modeling your patient heart to the boys this morning. Forgive me for starting this day in my own fragile strength and depleted resources. God only you know how depleted I am. Lord, thank you for entrusting these amazing boys to me. By the power of your Holy Spirit equip me to love them in your perfect love. Fill me to the brim with your love today so I can overflow into these precious souls. And thank you that you always forgive us and remove our sins as far as the east is from the west."
We finished praying. I opened my arms wide - "come in for the group hug!" We stayed there longer than usual and before we let go, Cal whispered, "I'm really sorry I disrespected you mom. You're the best."
"Oh baby. You. My heart is full for you. You are forgiven."
Repentance. Forgiveness. Restored relationship.
He makes all things new.
Yes, He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west. And He knew just how much we'd need to be reminded of this truth through the devotional we'd read moments earlier.
How sweet the sound
Now flowing down
From hands and feet
That were nailed to the tree
Your grace flows down and covers me
~ “Grace Flows Down” lyrics
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