Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Stubborn Mule in the Grip of Grace

"God, give me grace!"

I pray this prayer at minimum 57 times a day regarding my children.  Another tantrum, another injury, another early morning after another bad night.  My kids require so much more grace than I ever knew I would need and oh-so-much more than have to give.  Which is a good thing, I suppose.  It keeps me drinking from the Well, that's for sure.

As I go through my day pleading each moment for another rain of tenderness toward my children, it's easy to get caught dwelling on, well, why they're demanding so much grace in the first place (i.e. another tantrum, another injury, getting up way too early again).  When I feel like I'm reaching the end of my grace rope, my tendency is to pray away the things that are driving me nuts.

"Lord, remove this stubbornness in his heart!" "God, his recklessness will be the death of me...or him...or both! How do I make him more cautious?!"

But what if, instead of asking God to graciously remove the things in my kids that I don't like, I ask him to get a grip on those things and never let go.

I think every parent has dreams for his or her children.  We imagine what their personalities will be, who they'll marry, the careers they'll have, how self-sufficient they'll be (nursing moms dwell on this a lot).  We look at our children's strengths and wonder how God will use his creativity, or her gentleness, or his natural leadership.  It's not hard to imagine God using a friendly disposition or a love for learning to His glory.  It's another matter, however, when all we feel like we see are tears over hurt feelings and selfish swiping of toys.

One day recently, as I sat on the edge of the tub after disciplining my son again (my place of refuge when I need a minute to recoup), I was praying a prayer of exasperation that is all too common these days, "God, he is so stubborn!" In that moment I remembered my prayer for my boys that morning. "Lord, make them men who know how to persevere.  Who don't give up just because things are hard, but who will push through knowing that their goal and their hope are worth it."

Suddenly, I felt and knew this truth: Perseverance is stubbornness in the grip of God's grace.


My mommy world was shaken and a whole new horizon was opened. 

That same stubbornness that I just had to discipline my son for could be the answer to my morning prayer for my boys if only he would let God get a  hold of his stubborn heart.

Even the darkest things I see in my kids (and in myself, now that you mention it) can be used to the honor and glory of God.  He doesn't have to take things away from their personality to make them effective for His name.  All that needs to happen is that they humble themselves before the Lord, and the grip of His grace will shape them into effective ministers for His glory.

So, Lord, take a hold of my son's stubbornness and build him into a man who perseveres.  Grab my son's recklessness and turn it into a fearlessness for your Truth.  Help me to see the ways that you have uniquely gifted my children to show your glory to this world, and make me a minister of your grace to them, helping shape them into the men you have designed them to be.

- Is your son cocky? Imagine the advantages of sharing the Gospel with such confidence.
- Is your daughter a know-it-all? The Lord could use some assertive truth-tellers.
- Is your son a tantrum thrower? I'll bet God could use such passion.
- Is your daughter bossy? The church needs people with vision and organization.
- Are your kids whiners?  God desperately wants people to be vocal about injustice.

What do you see in your children that drives you nuts?  What makes you say, "God, give me grace!" What could that trait become in the grip of God's grace?  Let's pray that the sinfulness we see in our children's hearts will be transformed into mighty tools for the Kingdom of God.