How do we look at our parents? Do we see them as people who tell us what to do? That we have to listen to? That we are obligated to respect? That we only claim to respect out of some distant sense of a fear that God exists but then secretly resent them for it?? Do we actually hold against them the fact that we are commanded to obey them??? Or, are they people we look up to? Sadly to say, there are a lot of us who were raised in Christian homes, who know how we should view our parents, but who do not look at them or the whole picture of obedience the way we should. There have been times I have been one of them.
A lot of it is that we come at things from our own angle – the perspective of fallen human nature. Seen through this lens, a lot of things that God requires of us just don’t make sense. Many times that is because we are not looking at them the right way at all. How do we see life differently in this area if we come at it instead from God’s angle?? The way He tells us that He views things through His Word??
When you’re a little kid, it’s pretty simple. If you want to go outside, you ask your parents. If they say yes, you do. If they say no, you don’t. Some little kids whine and cry, but the ones who know that doesn’t work, don’t try that very often. If your parents tell you to go to bed, you go. If it’s time for a party at a friends, they tell us, and take us there and bring us back home.
Then we start growing up and things get a lot more complicated. We know more of what we like and don’t like, what we do and don’t want to do, what we really care about them saying “yes” or “no” to. Sometimes we feel like our whole future might hinge on those two little words. All of a sudden, life is not about nap times and bed times and play time and pick-up times anymore. Some of us try to push the boundaries on dress, activities, music, friends, and life in general. Then there are those simply trying to figure out where they come down.
For all of us, growing up is a time where we try to figure out where we fit into it all. Obedience becomes a broader term when it changes from a must-do, to something that we feel with our hearts … when respecting that comes so close to home, that it hurts to give in and is an actual act of self-sacrifice.
We may all face times when our parents may ask us to do something that goes against God, and we must then go to God for the specific answers on our particular needs, and how it will all work out. He will help us to work through each one, but that is a large topic in itself, and one we must each search out for ourselves as it applies to our life. Often obeying is a struggle simply because we do not want to do it.
The bottom line is that once again it all comes back to Proverbs 3:5. – Trust. Trust in God. Leaning on our own understanding would many, many times tell us that we know better than our parents. But God knows that our parents have lived much more of life than we have, and have much more wisdom, if they are people who are trying to please God with their lives. If we listen to them when we are young, often we look back once we are older and only then see the wisdom in their advice.
That is part of the reason why God gives us parents to guide us when we are young, and not really capable of making some wise choices for ourselves. God may use a “no” from our parents to stop us from doing something that will really hurt us in the long run.
But no matter how strongly we feel that our whole future might hinge on those two little words, the fact is that it never does. It never can. God’s plan for us is much bigger than our parents, or any authority in our lives. God is sovereign, in control, and He is not going to let anyone get in the way of His plans. If He can (and does) direct the hearts of kings, directing the hearts of our parents is a simple matter. “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” Proverbs 21:30-31 “The King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” Proverbs 21:1. “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your love, O Lord, endures forever.” Psalm 138:8
God promises that He will fulfill His purpose for our lives; whatever that is. This is not to say that everything our parents ask of us is in line with what God wants, but that we can trust God to work it out. Most of us know the messages of Ephesians 6:1 and Exodus 20:12 – we’ve heard them our whole lives from childhood up. We were just covering Proverbs 5:11-14 in Bible study the other day. It is a warning for those who ignore parents that says: “At the end of your life you will groan when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, “How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors. I have come to the brink of utter ruin in the midst of the whole assembly.”
The reverse of that is something I didn’t often think about during the tough times of obedience. Now that I’m getting older and looking back at things that were difficult at the time; I see the positive results of having listened (however reluctantly) to my parents in many cases. You may never realize at the time, the blessings that will come from this simple act of trust in God’s Word and His promises for us. There are some times that I still don’t understand. Maybe one day I will, or maybe I won’t ever see how they fit into God’s plan for me until this life is over. In the meantime it must be enough that I can trust God that He knew what was best for me, much better than I ever could. He sees the whole picture and knows how things roll out and affect each other in a way we never can really comprehend in our finite thinking.
In church tonight, the points were covered that God is all- knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere-present. That is why His will always comes to pass! He possesses all three of these qualities at once; He is the only One who can be any of these things and the only One who is all of these at the same time!!
What an amazing God we serve!! There were some thoughts I wanted to share about this topic with you all, but was really having a lot of trouble with it all coming together. As often happens, all I needed to do is bring it to God in prayer. I’m always amazed at how He shows us His love by all the details we pray about and He answers; the things we know we are unable to accomplish ourselves. When we covered Proverbs 5 in Bible study, when tonight’s message included these thoughts on how God is in control, and when one of my sisters shared a thought about the same topic with me; it all began to connect for me and I couldn’t help but think how all these things tied together.
I really felt that it must be something that God wanted me to write. They were all connecting things that God put in front of me. The other really neat thing God brought to my attention was this: This past year, God has really used the message in Psalm 138:8 in my life: “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your love, O Lord, endures forever.”
For some reason though, I never kept on reading into chapter 139 (immediately following that verse) as a continuous thought. I never noticed that it goes right into another one of my favorites:
“O Lord, You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all of my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast … For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. …Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” The very God who created us and had our days planned before we were even born is not about to let anyone or anything stand in the way of those plans!! He is a powerful God.
Job 26:14 is a verse that really stands out to me: “He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight. He covers the face of the full moon, spreading His clouds over it. He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters for a boundary between light and darkness … And these are but the outer fringe of His works. How faint the whisper we hear of Him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power?”
“To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:1-3
“He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the peoples of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:7-11
For those of us who are no longer little children, hopefully the concept of obedience has grown (or is growing) into a much bigger picture than a simple parental “yes” or “no” followed by an automatic response out of obligation; just as our relationship with our parents changes form as we grow up. I am beginning to see it as honoring God by trusting His plan for our lives; and honoring our parents out of respect at the same time for all their dedicated effort of guiding, teaching, and striving to point us in the right direction. We should appreciate all our parents have done for us more as we try to put ourselves in their shoes and think how difficult their task often is. The book of 1 John tells us that obedience equals love for God. (1 John 2:5-6) ” … perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18.
The opposite of fear is trust. We must realize that God’s purpose for us will be fulfilled, “…the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart”….His Word promises us that. In the end, we must put our hope in God.