My son is a wonderful child and has a great gift of character. As he grows in age (8) we struggle every so often with his growing independence and his desire to cross the boundaries of respect and obedience. He is very strong-willed but usually is a quiet spirit that says, "yes ma'am" and obeys without much of an ordeal. Last night we had one of those nights where his attitude was asking, "What are you going to do if I defy your request?" I had a really long day and wasn't feeling very well and it would have been easy for me to simply ignore the bad behavior and hope for a better result next time but I knew full well that if not addressed, "next time" could be worse. Instead I had to push aside the fatigue and face this defiance head on. I stood my ground as calmly as I could and I explained amongst the frustration and tried patience as to "why" it was important to comply with my request and why his reaction and behavior will not be tolerated. He screamed and cried and threw a couple tantrums and I'm sure my poor neighbors were quite bothered by the noise, but when all was said and done, he laid in his bed and fell asleep having accomplished the task he was asked to do. Exhaustion has never felt so victorious.
As I collapsed into bed, the thought occurred to me; how often do I do that to God? How often does he ask me to comply with his request for obedience and I either outright defy Him, or I throw an internal screaming tantrum. He continues to love me and speak gently to me through my fits until I finally comply and then rest in the safe feeling of his love.
Parenting is teaching our kids how we are to obey God. God is loving but firm in his commands. Sometimes he's a gentle whisper and sometimes he speaks loud and clear. The only difference is that God does not collapse into bed from exhaustion afterwards. I am thankful for that!