Join us in welcoming one of our newest contributors, Crystal Rommen, to For The Family. Today Crystal is encouraging us with three ways God responds to our child’s rebellious heart.
~Pat and Ruth
Panic sets in as my three-year-old sprints out of sight. Despite repeated warnings, my son escapes at top speed through the grocery store. Luckily, he yells loudly enough that I can locate him several aisles over. I manage to wrangle him back, but not before a box of chocolates, a Christmas ornament, bottle of soda, and many tears find their way into (and back out of) the cart.
My sweet little boy is full of fun and energy. He is kind and ready to make fast friends with young and old alike. He is articulate and smart. He is also, at times, disobedient. From even the youngest age, I see rebellion creeping into his little heart.
A prominent example of disobedience in the Bible occurs time and time again amongst God’s chosen people, the Israelites. They complain about wandering in the desert after being freed from slavery. They make idols instead of worshipping God. The Israelites turn their hearts away despite seeing God’s miraculous signs and provisions. They are a hot mess, my friend. God still promises to work mightily through them.
I want to give you three ideas to consider while examining God’s response to rebellion:
1) Sin is serious. While delivering the Ten Commandments to Moses, God addresses this rebellion issue while displaying His full you-can’t-look-at-me-and-live glory. Sounds terrifying, right? Exodus 20:5-6 says,
“I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”
Sin and disobedience will ripple out to affect your kids and grandkids. In Yahweh’s perfect justice, he freely allows us to experience the repercussions of our brokenness, even to the third and fourth generations. God knew the Israelites’ hearts and saw their need for instruction. Despite the directions, the Israelites still could not measure up to God’s standards. Lucky for us, God has a plan because,
2) God’s love is large. When I read about the Israelites, I think about how God could have exacted perfect justice in an instant during moments of disobedience. But we worship a patient God abounding in love that is bigger than our failures. He tells Moses in Exodus 34:6-7 that Yahweh is, “The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness…I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” He says he wants to lavish us with His love for a thousand generations. God pursues His creation relentlessly. Sinful choices convict us, but His love and forgiveness release us, regardless of how badly we mess up.
3) Restoration is real. Take heart, mama! We have hope because God has a restoration plan and wants to bring us back to a relationship with him. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” He sent his righteous son into the world to take our place. Jesus stands in the gap when our sin separates us from our perfect and just God. Our “third and fourth generation” disobedience cannot stand up against God’s redemptive, transcendent love and forgiveness that covers a thousand generations. It is incredible to me that this, my friend, is what God wanted to share while displaying His full glory!
As my son careens down aisle five, I see my own rebelliousness reflected in his bright, blue eyes. I, too, run aimlessly in my sin and striving. I want my son to understand the weight of disobedience and its pervasive, dead-end path. Equally, I want him to choose to run, not out of rebellion, but rather, “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let [him] run with endurance the race that is set before [him], looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of [his] faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I want my son to choose obedience and bask in the inheritance as a chosen, loved, and forgiven child of God.