GROW UP! — “How a father sees his child, or when are we adults going to grow up?”

I have a fourteen-year-old daughter named Mallory. At the early age of four, she had already proved herself to be very independent.

She’s never been much of a “morning person.” A typical breakfast conversation with thr four year old Mallory might have went something like this:

Dad: Mallory, what do you want for breakfast?
Mallory: Hmmpph!
Dad: Mallory, do you want waffles or cereal for breakfast?
Mallory: I want nothing!
D: Mallory, you need to eat your breakfast. You need to eat to grow. It’s not healthy to skip breakfast.
M: I’m not hungry.
D: How about a waffle? You’ll really like a waffle. It tastes great.
M: I don’t want a waffle!
D: Mallory, eat your vitamin. It’s the orange flavored kind you like.
M: No. I want a donut.
D: You’re not getting a donut. You need to eat your vitamin.
M: No! I want a donut right now!

Well, you get the idea. (Now that she’s 14, all I get is “I’m not hungry.”)

Many of you I’m sure have had similar parenting experiences. At the time they are kind of stressful, but we smile with love for the child when we look back on it even a few minutes later. We certainly love the child unconditionally, but we are so puzzled why the child would refuse even that which we know is tasty or a vitamin that we promise is good.

We all know that the Bible describes the Christian saints as children of God and that we can call him “our Father.” Most of the time, if you’re like me, you think of these images sort of like the image of sitting on daddy’s lap by the warm fire, or thinking of how as children all our wants and needs are met by our parents. How as children, to the extent we remember what it was like, we had not a care in the world.

Is that the only way we should think of ourselves as children of God or of God as our heavenly Father? I think not. Rather, I believe that when the Bible uses the analogy of a father and his children, it is not just asking us to consider the passage in view of our life experiences as children, but also to understand our situation as children in view of our life experiences as a father, as a parent relating to our own children.

How so? I was caring for my daughter, providing her with choices that would benefit her. I was providing her with the information that she needed to know that what I was offering would be both pleasurable and beneficial. It was clear that if she trusted me in what I said, she would have done what I asked.

How did she react? She insisted on expressing her rebellion, her independence and her preference for something that she was not allowed.

Aren’t’ we, in our old natures that are with us till we die, just like this little four year old?

Does not our Heavenly Father care for us and offer us choices that will benefit us? Does He now provide with the information that we need? If we believe His word, should we not obey Him?

And how does our sinful nature respond? Just like this four year old’s. We rebel, insist on our own path, doubt His word and fail to obey.

And, like a true father, our Heavenly Father continues to love us and care for us, so that after such a conversation on Sunday, again on Monday, we can be sure that He will be there waiting for us, saying each and every day of our lives, as it were, “Do you want cereal or waffles for breakfast”.

Will we ever grow up? How will we reply?

May God continue to sanctify us all each and every day, but let Him also continue to be patient with us and persist in His Fatherhood toward us, even on those mornings when we rebel and refuse His lovingkindness.