Last night, at VBS, Mason, my seven year old, was asked a question about sin. After demonstrating that we all sin, that even when we know what's right, often we still choose what's wrong, Mason was asked (while I was in the room because I'm one of the adults for his age group) if it disappoints me when he disobeys or is disrespectful to me, and how does that make him feel. His answer frustrated me at the time because he had been acting silly during the illustration, but since, it has made me think.... As our pastor asked again, "Does it make you sad when your mom is disappointed in you when you disobey?" Mason responded, "It makes me confused." My thought was, Yeah right! You know exactly how I feel. But the more I've thought about it, the more I've pondered his confusion. As a kid, he sees something he wants, but is told "no". That doesn't stop the desire for the thing, so he takes it and mom gets mad. With four kids, this happens approximately 100 times on any given day in our house, so you'd think they would learn the pattern and adjust their behavior, which sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't.
So, where does the confusion come in to play? I can't say for sure... Maybe it's in my expression of disappointment or anger. Maybe he doesn't understand that the whack-a-mole game of which kid will disobey next, isn't very enjoyable for me so he gets confused at my frustration. Maybe he's just spot on, and my response to their disobedience is all wrong causing a very appropriate emotion in confusion. Maybe it's in the "no". Maybe he doesn't see the big picture at 7 like I do at 41, so he is confused because he's told no for this thing he really wants. Maybe he's confused because sometimes, it's just about the obedience and has nothing to do with the thing.
It's so easy to watch this play out in the lives of my children, or to read and probably picture in your own children, but isn't this also true in our own lives? Maybe as adults we aren't so much confused as we are impatient, rebellious or lacking in faith. Consider the child who wants the cookie before dinner but is told, no, he can have it after he eats, but he takes it anyways. Chances are, he was either impatient and just wanted it now giving no thought to how it might spoil his appetite, or he simply didn't care that he was told no, or, he didn't believe you that he could have the cookie after he ate. How many times do we also lack in faith at God's plans for our lives, or His timing, and jump into something when we knew He was telling us no, or not now? Or fein ignorance and do what we want in rebellion regardless of truth spoken in God's word?
God's fifth commandment reads, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." I like this scripture, and I like for my children to recite it. Honor your father and your mother. One translation reads, Honor your father and mother, that it may be well with you.
How much sense does that make in parenting?! If you do what your father and I have asked of you and follow the rules we have in place for you, it will go well with you. Period. I often tell my kids, as they are crying in anguish over a consequence, that I have never issued a punishment for obedience. Not ever. You know the consequence...if you wish to avoid it, make a better choice. Truly, it's that simple.
But when I take that scripture and apply it to my own life on those days when I am spiraling down the sin cycle (this looks different in my life now, than it once did, but it definitely still applies), I see those same words, Honor the Father, SO THAT IT MAY GO WELL WITH YOU.
Just as it is for our kids, that we know and see the world around them through the lens of life experience, my 41 years don't hold a candle to God's eternal perspective. Sometimes, we just have to trust that the proverbial cookie He's promised us, will be far more worth it if we will just wait until after dinner, as He commands (just an illustration, no where in the Bible does God promise us a cookie). I want my childrens obedience, so that it will go well for them, just as God's wants mine, and yours.
Just as our children won't always get this right, we will never be perfect in our obidience, but let's try to drop the 'confusion' and aim to do as we've instructed our children. Honor the Father, so that it will go well with you, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
If you have been "confused", lacking faith, impatient or rebellious to God, I hope this scripture helps and has blessed you in some way.