A few weeks ago my daughter came home with her preliminary 8th grade elective class schedule. We found it partially crumpled in her backpack alongside a few leftover potato chips and an empty water bottle. Not only had she elected two study halls over art, choir, computer, and keyboarding, she had also quietly declined an invitation to the advanced algebra class.
(She is obviously her mother’s daughter).
These are not the moments for a father to sit passively by, so I stepped in to help her “rethink” those decisions. I created a little tension in her life. Forced her to move toward what was best for her, not what she wanted. And she obeyed.
I’d like to tell you that’s how I always discipline my daughter. In love. With her best interest in mind. Propelling her toward her true identity. Her best, God-created self. But some days I’m just angry. Tired. Nursing my own wounds and insecurities. Carrying the burden of someone in the church. Wrestling with a tough decision I need to make. (Trying to watch a ballgame).
And I verbally lash out.
She becomes the object of my internal angst. The available target for my pain. The whipping girl for my unsettled spirit. I’m not God (I know this comes as a shock), but my kids will involuntarily see Him through me.
That’s why the image of God as our Heavenly Father triggers such fascinating emotions.
Is He out for my good?
Is He just angry?
Is He leading me towards His best?
Have I just frustrated Him again?
Does He love me unconditionally?
Is He chronically disappointed?
If I haven’t failed Him already, is He out looking for a reason to be upset?
If I’ll never be good enough anyway, why should I even bother trying?
God is all about maturing us. Growing us. Empowering us. Releasing us to who He called and created us to be before the foundations of the earth were laid. Sometimes that means redirecting our desires when we dodge advanced math and sign up for two study halls. Sometimes it means allowing us to feel the repercussions of our bad decisions.
But He takes no pleasure in our pain. He’s doesn’t scream at us out of His own frustration, or rummage through our rooms looking for something to “bust” us for. You are not the object of his disdain (even if that’s the way imperfect dads like me have made you feel).
He is Love. He is for us. His desire is for our good. That we become who He knows we can be. He’s our Father. Not the kind you may have known. The kind you’ve always longed for.
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,and do not resent his rebuke,because the Lord disciplines those he loves,as a father the son he delights in.” -Proverbs 3:11-12 TNIV