My husband and I have a three-year-old. For some reason this is an intense age. Since she is very strong willed, we but heads daily on who’s will is going to win. I am not one who believes a strong will is bad. As long as your will can be brought into submission to His will, this can be good! (We are still working on the submission part with my daughter.)
We often have “girls” devotion time while her dad is at work and her brother is in school. During this time, I try to help her see a principle that is evident and repeated in scripture. Each time I walk through a story with her, we discuss the same three questions at the end. “Who did we talk about in this story?”, “What did they do?” and “Did they follow God’s directions?”.
Turn over to Judges 2:1-5, CSB,
“1 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, “I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your fathers. I also said: I will never break my covenant with you. 2 You are not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of this land. You are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed me. What is this you have done? 3 Therefore, I now say: I will not drive out these people before you. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a trap for you.” 4 When the angel of the Lord had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. 5 So they named that place Bochim and offered sacrifices there to the Lord.”
Up to this point, God had told His people a number of times that they needed to follow His directions. Here he is telling them that they will be punished through the Canaanites for disobeying. This is the principle I want my daughter to learn early. Let’s compare.
Flip over to Genesis 6:22, CSB,
“22 And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.”
In Genesis 6 we learn about the instructions that God gave Noah about the ark. We see at the end of the chapter that Noah did follow His directions. Then the rain came, and everything that breathed air died. After the storm, we see what happens when we obey God.
Head over to Genesis 8:1-4, CSB,
“1 God remembered Noah, as well as all the wildlife and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water began to subside. 2 The sources of the watery depths and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky stopped. 3 The water steadily receded from the earth, and by the end of 150 days the water had decreased significantly. 4 The ark came to rest in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.”
Because Noah did “everything God commanded”, “God remembered Noah” by saving him from the flood! The juxtaposition of these two stories shows us the principle I’m praying she learns (soon). On the other side of our obedience are the blessings of a just and loving God.
What this shows me, is that teaching my children to follow my directions is more important that just having well mannered children. Teaching my children to follow directions (or obey), is preparing them for life in the Kingdom of God! If we want good Kingdom citizens for children, we need to broaden our thinking in these areas. They need to know that the best way to live joyfully in the Kingdom, is to walk in obedience to the will of the One and Only King of Kings and Lord of Lords…. Jesus!!
“23 However, I did give them this command: ‘Obey me, and then I will be your God, and you will be my people. Follow every way I command you so that it may go well with you.’”, Jeremiah 7:23, CSB
“22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works — this person will be blessed in what he does.”, James 1:22-25, CSB