God's Pattern for Parents

by Jan Silvious

Not long ago I watched a moving scene between a mother and daughter as we sat at my dining room table. We adults were engrossed in our own conversation, and the little girl's plea for her mother's attention seemed almost like an intrusion. With unruffled patience, the woman drew the child close to her and began to draw pictures to distract her.

I watched them together and thought back to the days when my own children were small. As a young mother, I had prided myself on their good behavior with only a glance from me. But, in looking back, I could see that I cared too much for other people's opinions of my children and of me as a parent. Unfortunately, appearances were often more important to me than my relationship with my children.

As I have come to know the Lord better over the past eighteen years, I have observed some qualities that He, as a parent, demonstrates toward His children in achieving both obedience and relationship with us:

1. God never ceases expressing His unconditional love and commitment, even when His children are disobedient. He repeatedly says in many ways, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jer. 31:3).

2. God is lavish in His goodness. He "spoils" His children with good things even when they don't deserve it. "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made" (Ps. 145:8,9).

Once, when one of my children was being disciplined, he had a tough time believing that my parental restrictions were made in love. In fact, he was so angry that it was impossible to convince him that we were punishing him only because we did love him. Finally, I bought him a small gift and put it in his room along with a note that told him again how much we loved him. With that gesture, we were able to build a bridge and restore our relationship. The gift was a reminder that despite the fact he was being disciplined, he was still very loved.

3. God is unashamed of His devotion to His children. "The Lord your God...will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zeph. 3:17).

Throughout Scripture, God's superior parenting is clearly demonstrated. He gives and gives and He loves and loves. He seems literally to enjoy His children. He "delights" in us. He loves us. He "rejoices over" us! And when the very nature of His character demands our correction, He is moved by the feelings of our weakness, and hovers close by to offer refuge to His repentant children.

For those of us who at one time may have been too harshly demanding with our own children, God is a Redeemer. He promises that He will take the mistakes we made in youthful ignorance and cause them to work for good. And that's good news!

From The 5-Minute Devotional

©1991 by Zondervan