Part of having children is that often they must come to you with bad news. They spilled this, or made a mess with that; it happens a lot! But, when my children both come to me and say that they need to show me something, and then they say that it is a really bad problem – I get a little concerned.
This device has been sitting on Squirmy’s bookshelf for quite a while. We use it to play some children’s music and programs during his quiet time and at bedtime. The kids know that they are not allowed to touch the device without permission. I instinctively knew that something had happened, it was written in their eyes. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and could just imagine what might have taken place.
I figured that Squirmy might have been testing out his ninja skills, but I certainly did not know that for sure. So I inquired what had really happened. Squirmy quickly told me that he was just cleaning his room as he was instructed. He had caught the power cord and it flew off of his desk and into the bed post. He desperately cried, “I wasn’t trying to break it, Daddy! I really didn’t mean too!”
After interrogating a bit further I believed that it was simply a mistake. We removed the device from the room to avoid any potential further accidents. I hugged my son and let him know that I was not going to punish him because of a mistake. Really, that was it. That was the end of our really bad problem, or at least I thought that it was. A few days later I received this message while I was working late one night:
Now, if I had been home – I fear that this story would have played out much differently. I probably would have grown upset that Squirmy had lied to me. I probably would have taken him to his room and punished him for his wrong doing. But, in God’s design, he allowed this to happen while I was away. And this caused a much better result!
My beautiful Bride explained to me later how she had gone into Squirmy’s room to let him know what I said. She told me of the look of terror in his little eyes as she walked into the room. He just knew that he had messed up, and now he was going to get it! But, he did not receive the blast of disapproval and anger that he was expecting. Instead, he was given the news of his forgiveness and the reassurance that he was loved.
As Squirmy and I spoke of this issue later I began to think on two very important things. The first is that I am grateful for guilt. I certainly do not enjoy feeling guilty, but I am happy that God gives us the feeling of guilt. It was guilt that helped Squirmy realize that something was wrong. If it was not for the guilt that Squirmy felt, he would not have gotten things right in his own heart. He knew that he had lied, and even if I as his father had never figured it, he knew that he had done wrong. I am grateful that God gave us guilt to help drive us back towards a good relationship with Him.
The second thing that I had to pause and thank my Savior for is His forgiveness. How often I have come to Him knowing full well that I deserved His disapproval and punishment. But, despite all that I deserve I have never come to my God in repentance and been blasted with disdain. Oh, how awesome it is that His forgiveness is abundant and everlasting! When we come to Him in repentance of sin, He is always ready to swoop us up in His arms and forgive us of all that we have done. He is quick to remind us that it is under the blood! Our relationship is restored, and we can once again be right with Him!
As we have the important task of raising our children, may we learn to better illustrate the longsuffering forgiveness of Christ. May we learn to punish the rebellious heart and forgive the repentant heart. May we always remember that the issue is not what rule was broken, but that the issue is the heart of our children. When our children come to us in repentance, knowing full well that what they did was wrong, may we always offer the forgiveness that Christ offers to us!
Have you ever punished your child after they have come to you in repentance? I know that I mistakenly have. Do you think that this lack of forgiveness after repentance has hardened our children to the gospel of Christ? Do you think that our Churches show forth this forgiveness like it should? Let us know how this thought impacts you and your life in the comments below.
Sure, you can send this article to anybody you want. And, if you’re REAL awesome, you’ll even tell them where it came from!