A Bad Parent? God?

Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, Consider your ways!” ~ Haggai 1:5

I’m a bad parent…

I mean, I must be. There really is no other explanation. Just consider some of the things that I have done over the years. I wouldn’t let my kids eat only sweets while they were growing up. I actually made them eat other foods besides candy. I wouldn’t let my kids play with matches or stick metal objects in electrical sockets. I put dangerous tools and poisonous cleaning products far from their reach. I required them to wear helmets when they were first learning to ride their bicycles. I made them go to bed at a decent hour each night. I expected them to do their homework. Daily. When they got older I told them they had to be home at a certain time. If they were going to be even 5 minutes late, my phone better be ringing with an advance warning and believable explanation. I required them to respect their elders, to clean up after themselves, and to apologize when they were rude or offensive to others. Yep. No question about it. I was and still am a terrible parent.

I cringe when I think back on all the times I intervened in their lives. If I had truly loved them, I would have given them complete and total freedom without my constant interference. Without question, far too many were the times I hindered them in their individual pursuits, selfishly stepping in because I was “concerned” about their well-being. In the final analysis I was the one being selfish. It was all a power trip, an effort on my part to exert my authority and stifle their own creativity and individual expression. I was overbearing. I was abusive. I was a bad parent. Right… And if you believe any of that, I also have some prime real estate in south Florida that I would like to sell to you 🙂

Funny, isn’t it? Those of us who are parents get it. We understand that true love means intervention. It’s not a power trip. It’s not about control. You see your child heading down a path that you know will lead to disaster and you do your best to help them, to protect them, to save them. Now granted, some times are methods are faulty. We holler when we should listen. We punish when we should discipline. We push away when we should pull closer. No, none of us get it perfect. But we understand the big picture. Good parenting means that you are involved in the lives of your children. You are there because you care. You speak words of warning and instruction because you are concerned. And you remain steadfast in your decision because you love.

So, why do we take a different perspective when it comes to our heavenly Father???

When I was a much younger man, I read the opening verses of Haggai in a much different light. When I got to verse 5 I envisioned an angry God, one full of wrath and retribution. I imagined Him speaking in an authoritative, thundering voice from heaven. In my mind His Words were like a tidal wave, knocking the people down in submission. “CONSIDER YOUR WAYS!!!” He was God. He had given His word. How dare they disobey???

But over the years I have watched as my perspective has changed. Initially I saw God as an abusive authoritarian, one who was willing to beat His children into submission. It was all, “My way or the highway.” Stray from His path and you would quickly experience the hand of chastisement. I could not have been more wrong. God is a loving Father. His message here in Haggai is not “all about the wrath” but rather it is the concerned intervention of a parent who is deeply troubled by His children’s self-destructive ways. He steps in and speaks a word of correction to them, desperately long to get their attention, to turn them from their own damaging choices. It’s not a voice of punishment but rather it is a voice of care. “Look at your present situation. You’ve made a mess of things but even now there is a way back, a way to fix what has been broken, a way to return. Turn back to Me. Listen to Me. Learn from Me. And live once again in the light and liberty of My love.”

I find tremendous hope in that reality. God loves me enough to do what is necessary in my life. If that means a word of correction, He will speak it. If that means telling me “no”, He will do it. If that means discipline, He will not withhold it. He cares about me. He is concerned for me. And He loves me enough to intervene in my life even when I fight Him the entire time. Yep, no doubt about it. In my book He is a perfect parent. And I for one am grateful!