“She’ll stay in her room till she confesses”, said Marilla grimly, remembering the success of this method in the former case….
This Christmas, I immersed myself in the world of the incessantly chatty, imaginative and funny Anne of Green Gables, and when I read the chapter of the story where Anne’s adoptive mother Marilla is attempting to wring a confession out of Anne, I had to laugh and cry at the same time. The depiction of the parent, so smugly using a strategy that worked so well a previous time to teach a child a lesson, this time proves futile (you’ll have to read the book to find out how) and the confidence in ‘tried and tested’, previously successful methods falters and wanes.
How often do we feel like Marilla? Do we find ourselves thinking: That will work. It’s bound to. It did last time. I’ll apply that method to this child, that mentality to this situation, that time of day was a good time to ask I’ll try that again ….. only to find they don’t glean the same results.
So we despair of the insufficiency of top ten parenting pinterest posts, exercise routines, BIble reading plans, SMART goals, even New Years Resolutions. Methods that have worked in the past, this time prove futile and don’t effect the change or result we were after. We attach such confidence in the process, goal, or method that we forget the changeable nature of the hearts involved, our own and others, the varying nature of situations, times of day, our own aging bodies! How quickly we bypass knowledge of ourselves, others and the circumstance in pursuit of the quick fix, tried and tested formulas. When our recourse to the same old proves unfruitful we feel frustrated and cheated by the method or system, because that’s easier than growing in our learning, in learning afresh what we need to pursue goals, or to parent our children.
Children have an incredibly strong sense of what is right. Something is fair if it is the same and no more do we see this than in the Christmas holidays! The same number of sweets, the same method of discipline, same house jobs and responsibilities. If the weary legs of a 5 year old are lovingly given a piggyback by a compassionate Father at the end of a long family walk, then surely the same goes for me, cries the 7 year old! The child doesn’t see the Father’s decision is made in light of knowledge of different temperaments, knowledge of seven year old legs able to endure more than those of a five year old, or backs that can withstand the weight of a younger child. The child doesn’t perceive and plan in light of and with love for differing sensitive and stubborn hearts. They just view match for match. Like for like. Often a Father’s decision is incomprehensible to a child’s perception, but the loving Father always acts with justice, love, compassion, and knowledge of his children.
The Lord’s Fatherly love for us, his perfect love for us that exceeds even that of the most tender and compassionate earthly Father we know, mean that his way of teaching us is always with perfect knowledge of us, and with the perfect righteousness of his character.
He came down to bring us knowledge of him, to flood our darkened minds that resort to own tried and tested methods, to give us his perspective and see justice in his terms, to see compassion and care in a beautiful range of appropriate means for each one of his children our of his steadfast love and his never changing character. To see the height depth length and breadth of his love and the surpassing greatness of his knowledge. To bow before his infinite and perfect knowledge of his children and learn from him through our own and others lives each day, his gracious protection of each one of us, one by one.
God revealed Himself as our wonderful counsellor, our master and teacher in Jesus. When He spent time with Mary and Martha, Mary delighted to sit at his feet, listening, learning, hearing and receiving from Him. Martha knew how precious this role was to her younger sister, calling out to Mary, ‘your master’ is here.
Jesus is not only our teacher, He is also our lesson. Taught by Him to known Him. In his school of life, we are continually learning Him and His ways not as some abstract subject, but personally, intimately with Him as our teacher, speaking to us by His Word and Spirit. Teaching us to trust in His justice, faithfulness, His perfect unchanging nature.
And when we perceive difference, or seeming contradiction, seeming injustice in His ways, when we are too busy as the sister preoccupied with her Father’s gracious compassionate carrying of her sister, He calls us to surrender our limited perception and understanding and enlighten us to his wise, caring, loving walk beside us, knowing exactly the load He has called us to bear, and knowing the steps He asks of us each day with Him at our side. As our loving, all wise and knowing Master and Teacher, he lovingly exposes our disposition to recourse to strategies and plans as our hope and confidence, and grows us in learning His ways are higher than ours, his knowledge and his counsel often incomprehensible but also wise, holy, and full of compassion and tender mercy for his children.
Your Father knows you. He has no need for ‘tried and tested’ formulas of parenting. He takes no confidence in applying by rote the same strategies without thought. He lovingly guides and guards the way of His children, taking us through seemingly incomprehensible and changing schools of learning. But to Him alone who has full perfect knowledge of his children’s hearts, who acts in perfect accord with His own holy, righteous and wise character, to God alone we can entrust our ways. Entrusting that each step is marked out for us by our faithful loving God, always with us, always lovingly teaching us His thoughts are marvelously higher than ours, his ways mercifully higher than ours.