Oh, I can grow weary.
But I want to shout it from the rooftops today...IT'S WORTH IT!! Just. Keep. Going.
Today was one of those days in the Clemmons' home I'll always remember.
The boys and I were diving into our Awana work while the youngest two napped. We were repeating their verses and began a craft project to actively think through how God is powerful. We built a paper chain and the boys took turns spouting off ways they knew of God's might and power, through the Bible or their own lives. Judah was rattling off stories from the Bible as I wrote....protecting Daniel in the Lion's Den, saving God's people from Pharaoh, creating the world.....and then Levi chimed in so sure, "God rescued me from my sin."
This kinda stopped me in my tracks.
Just a few nights before we had begun to talk about the idea of confession. We were reading in our Big Picture Story Bible of the Holy Spirit coming to the disciples and Peter preaching the message of Jesus to the crowd. (Plug for this Bible, if you haven't checked it out, please do! It's my favorite children's Bible by far!). The story furthered to say that many people "confessed and believed in Jesus that day." We paused and talked more about confessing to Jesus and how it was like saying the wrong things we do, and asking for forgiveness. (This exchange is very familiar to all of our kids because it's what we go through every time they are disciplined...."What did you do that was wrong? What could you have done instead? Now go apologize.") We finished our section of reading for the night and went into a time of prayer, like always. We prayed around the room, thanking God for our day, and suddenly, without any prompting, Levi began confessing his sins from the day. He named two specific times he didn't do what God would want him to do. He said he was sorry and asked God to help him obey Him.
Woah. This was the first time I had heard confession uttered from one of my children's mouths. A big deal.
This has always been the component of the gospel I've been waiting to see unlocked in their hearts. They understand the story of Jesus dying on the cross. They can tell you He rose again. They know they should choose to follow Him. They've been saying they want to follow Him for quite a long time. And that's all great. They have the knowledge of Christ's death. They get they have a choice. But I have always waited, and have prayed so often, for them to see their great need for Jesus. They need to get they are sinners. They need to know how bleak the picture looks when we are stuck in our sin. Then, the magnificent work of Jesus' sacrifice for them is truly received.
In comes the perseverance...disciplining a child is not for the faint of heart! It is inconvenient. It's almost never a "timely" occurrence. Other things are beckoning and it's so tempting to just overlook the matter by ignoring it (maybe because you're 8 months pregnant and have 2 others under 3 and just cannot face the reality...oh, ignoring seemed so right to me then...), or just throw our hands up in the air because we don't know how to respond. Yet, children who are disciplined must come face-to-face with their sin. They see they do wrong because they are receiving a consequence and learning the truth behind why what they have done is wrong. If I'm giving myself to disciplining as I should, my kids get a chance at least daily to be reminded that obeying God's word means obeying Mom & Dad and loving others. Any other kids you know out there that could use those reminders all.the.time.? Yes, we are all born into sin. Some days it may seem like nothing else can get done but teaching them again, and again.
But....IT'S SO WORTH IT!
So, after Levi uttered the fact that "God rescued me from my sin," he went even further. He began to confess a sin he had kept from me from months past. He told me he didn't want to do it again. He then asked me, "Mom, can God hear me when I tell you about what I did?" I explained to him, yes, He could, and that it was great that we confess our sins to one another, but that it was good to talk to God about it, too. I asked him if he wanted me to pray with him, and he answered, "I will pray."
I cried. I told him I was proud, that God was proud of him. I told him following Jesus would make him a good man. I told him he'd fall again, and still feel tempted to sin, but the Holy Spirit would help him.
He hugged me. And gave me a kiss. And a hugga-mugga. That boy.
I teared up again as we replayed the conversation with Waylon later. And I felt my heart swell. I told Waylon how glad I am that we never gave up disciplining him. He knew his need for Jesus. And the Holy Spirit gave him understanding deep in his heart to respond to what Jesus did for him.
The gospel is so powerful. God is so good, so faithful. All in His timing.