By Rob Moser, LPC
“Discipline your son, and he will give you rest. He will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:17
First off, we love our church. That’s you. Yes, we love you! We have grown so much and are so excited to live and worship in a community that seeks to be conformed to the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ our Lord raised and revealed through the Holy Spirit. God has given us huge measures of faith through the teaching, the fellowship, and the prayers of all of you. This faith led us to the decision to foster more children with much assurance based on our experience of love, support, and nurture at Crossway Chapel. When asked to write a devotional on parenting, I was pretty quick to come up with the topic, “discipline,” where God has truly been “chiseling” us. (Thanks, Tom, for the great visual!)
My wife, Mauri, and I have both been learning about God’s sovereignty over everything in our lives, including our children. I can say that yielding to God the fruitfulness, obedience, and salvation of my children has been the most difficult, yet freeing, experience of my life. Increasing in children from two to five in under a year led us to throw up our hands and cry out to him for strength, guidance, grace, and mercy. It is through this immense blessing and trial that we have learned to “trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and to lean not on our own understanding, and to acknowledge Him in all our ways and to trust that he will direct our (and their) paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (personalized)
Discipline is the one issue that, in our home, generates the greatest temptation to distrust God and His promises. Discipline is a daily battle against the flesh, theirs and our own. Currently in our home, we have a seven-year-old, a six-year-old, a five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a two-year-old. (I’m thinking we need a four-year-old as well to round it out, but I better consult with my wife first.) While we have not raised all five of these children from birth, we have raised our six and five-year-old from birth and we have been parenting the two-year-old since he was eleven months old.
Over the last six years, my wife and I have consulted and used many resources in an effort to be more effective at parenting, such as: books, videos, articles, rules, tips, tricks, gimmicks, charts, candy, etc. etc. etc. . . . . Agh! With the multitude of options/suggestions available, our feelings of confusion and frustration oftentimes became compounded, leading to a belief that failure for us and our children was imminent. Our first reaction to this belief was usually anger, along with an attempt to control our children or the circumstance surrounding their behavior. Our temptation was to try and control our children through fear and anger, or by circumstantially modifying their behavior.
Resources are good and I recommend them, provided they have some sound teaching and a biblical framework. They will educate and give you some greater perspective, yet they can only be supplemental to your obedience to the Word. After sifting through various resources, it was in the gospel and our own DISCIPLEship that we found the most fruitfulness in DISCIPLinE as parents.
God has revealed to us the gospel through scripture to deliver us from our sins in parenting. After doing a study on Galatians last summer, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that He would accomplish the work that He started, and I was not to worry and fret over every step. He put to rest that my works would avail anything (i.e. flesh-based parenting). The principle scripture in this was Galatians 3:3 that states: “Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
This has led me to grasp that the Spirit will accomplish His work in me. My flesh, my works, my hands are not enough to cause change and growth. Another complimentary verse is 1 Corinthians 3:6: “I [Paul] planted, Appollos watered, but God gives the growth. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”
Honestly, the entire third chapter of I Corinthians is a great encouragement to me as a parent as it helps me to see how immature I am in the flesh. I am to lay my foundations in Christ, and I may water or plant seeds in my children, but I am nothing more than a worker doing all in the Spirit of Christ. Only God causes a child’s growth by His sovereign will. Thanks be to Him!
It seems that God is intent in getting us to a place of surrendering our children to Him through the Word. How do we surrender our children to the Word? We decide to accept that everything has been orchestrated or allowed by His hand, and He will accomplish the work He started no matter what happens. He can and will weave the threads of sin, sorrow, and anger into a tapestry of profound good for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). There is a deep and profound rest in this knowledge. My failings, my selfishness, my loss of temper, etc. will be used to accomplish His purposes.
Practically, what I hope you will take away is to first, know that He is in charge and will accomplish His sovereign will in you and your children. Second, is that you, as a result of knowing you can rest in His sovereign will, will begin to love God’s Word more deeply. Your discipline in hearing, reading, praying, and understanding the gospel message will undoubtedly lead you to trust Him as well as accept His promises for you and your children. Your knowledge of the Word, your devotion to it, your teaching it to your children, your service and mercy to others, your patience and forbearance, as well as your firm yet consistent correction, will not return empty. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
I thank God for all of you. I pray that as you make a commitment to discipline both yourself and your children, your heart will find rest and delight through the gospel of Jesus Christ.