This week I was listening to one of my Entrusted audio lessons, “Establishing Authority, Part One: The Fear of God. A godly mother establishes authority in her child’s life.” The session ends with numerous Scriptures about the blessings of obeying and fearing God. I was meditating on the peace the Lord’s protection brings. What a joyful place to be!
Not long after I finished the lesson, my five-year-old said something quite sassy to me. I knew this was a perfect time to further teach him about the blessings of obeying God. Right away the verses about God’s protection, him being a fortress and a strong tower came to mind. The lesson was sure to be more impactful if I could find a more modern equivalent. Instantly I thought of the force fields Violet creates in “The Incredibles.” My oldest is a big Pixar fan, so I knew this would be a clear, attention-grabbing training session. “Lincoln, do you know what happens when we obey God’s rules? He puts a force field of protection over us. God blesses us when we follow his commandments. What important rule did you just break?” His eyes opened wide as I explained that when he dishonored me, the force field was taken off. We went full circle through the situation, and I could see his mind soaking it in. A few hours later, he was disrespectful again. “Lincoln, remember God’s commandment to honor your father and mother. Do you want to take the force field off?” He needed a few minutes to be repentant about that one. However, a few hours after that, he came to me and said, “Mommy, I almost took off my force field, but I decided not to!” The look of joy on his face was precious. Is he fully sanctified after I taught him this principle? Certainly not, but he gets it! I will continue to remind him of the power of God’s protection for the righteous.
Let’s be clear--I am not saying you should teach your child to obey out of an unhealthy fear of punishment. Rather you are teaching a truth in God’s economy: Obedience is rewarded, disobedience is punished. (Look at Deuteronomy 28-29 with your child if they are old enough. This may be a passage written to Israel, but God is the same yesterday and today, and we are his people too! These threads flow all the way through the Bible.) It is right for your child to have a healthy fear of disobeying. They need to understand this correlation while they are young…. while the temptations have shorter, more mild ramifications. You don’t want to wait until they are driving or dating for them to understand the pain of poor choices. I also want to explain that God’s protection does not clear us from the consequences of living in a fallen world. Horrible things happen on this earth, and they are not all because of disobedience. I would encourage you to share Romans 8:28 with your children while explaining this principle. Even when bad things happen, God promises to work them for our good. Sometimes we go through awful trials, but God’s presence in the midst of them transforms the situation. (Isaiah 43:1-4 is a good passage to explain this.)
A few months ago I read this quote by Marilyn Boyer (she writes homeschool curriculum with a Christian character focus): “Obedience is the only way to happiness.” It was so simply stated that it caught me off guard. I had to put the book down for a little while and meditate on the principle. It’s such a true statement, and one from which many children could learn. A recent, embarrassing example from my life really hit home on this truth. I was very convicted because I hadn’t gone to the dentist in awhile. Bogged down by check-ups for my kids, potty-training, cooking for food allergies, giving hair-cuts, getting a house ready to sell, disciplining consistently, and all the crazy stuff moms do each day, I had neglected myself. I knew I had to find a new dentist (our insurance had switched) and make an appointment, but I was a little afraid to admit my foolishness to a dental professional. I tried to shake off the conviction and guilt, but every time I passed a sign for a dentist, I would get this horrible pit in my stomach. And seriously--there are SOOO many dentists out there! Every time I got in the car I’d get five stomach aches! For the first month I became a flossing-fanatic! I’d floss after every meal (and you know how hard that is with toddlers!), and I started oil-pulling for 20 minutes a day to see if the sensitivity I was feeling would go away. Basically, I was trying to fix the problem myself without being humble and getting the appropriate help. Eventually it became too much, and I took the risk and made the appointment. I didn’t get the perfect confirmation of dental health I was seeking, but I did get my peace of mind back! And you know what? Next time I hear the conviction of the Lord, I will obey quickly! Knowing I am following the Lord in even such a small thing as this, puts my heart at ease. Obedience truly is the path to happiness. How loving is our God that He even cares about our teeth?! He zooms in on these minor areas of disobedience or neglect in our lives, so that we can really flourish. It was like He was saying to me, “Hey Steph, something’s brewing on that molar, go check it out! Really though, let’s look at this fear of man issue that contributed to the problem…. And you need to spend a little more time caring for yourself instead of investing so much in your kids!”
Our God is so faithful, thorough, and loving with us. I want my kids to repent upon God’s gentle rebuke and correction. That’s why I am training them now to know that His rules are for their good.
I’d like to leave you with a few Scriptures from Lesson 7 in the Entrusted workbook. If you’ve taken the class, I encourage you to go back and read through them all!
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them (Psalm 34:7).
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him… But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:11-13, 17)
The fear of the Lord leads to life,
and whoever has it rests satisfied;
he will not be visited by harm. (Proverbs 19:23)
Such beautiful promises! May our hearts, and our children’s hearts, embrace quick obedience to our Lord!