There is nothing better than physical affection from my children. When it comes to hugs and kisses I am a big teddy bear. Seeing a two year old run at you screaming Daddy! With a huge smile on her face is the greatest. I love them! However, there are times when they will try to buy you off with this cute wide eyed, innocence, how can you accuse me of such a thing, look at me I’m cute expression. Mostly after they have been given specific instructions such as clean your room, or brush your teeth, or get me a soda! (okay the last one very rarely works , except with the six year old because it is his joy in life to serve anybody)
So, anyway they’ve been given clear instructions which for whatever reason they have decided to ignore, and instead they begin running through the house doing other things. The things they select to do at these moments are generally things that we would give medals for if they were done without being told! Things like: give everyone a kiss, (including the three dogs, lizard, parakeet, and whatever stuffed animals happen to be grazing on the living room rug) or pick up some stray bits of trash and making sure to take about eighteen times longer than it should, (carrying it through three different rooms “looking“ for a trash can only to “find“ it inches from the starting line of their world trek.)_ Or collect their shoes and put them away, anything but what they were asked to do.
Now, they have a fairly strong argument that these are good things, however, they are not what they have been asked to do. I find it extremely tempting to just allow them to continue. (mostly because they are quiet and not interrupting my DVR’d Jericho or Monk!) but I have noticed a trend. When they are allowed to get away with such small and seemingly innocent lapses in response to authority it never ends well. It always escalates!
Parents beware! It is not my place to tell you what type of discipline to use in every circumstance that you may find yourself but I beg of you, I plead with you to make whatever it is stick! This is not the time to be wishy-washy, you must be consistent! Get off the couch, pry the remote out of your hand, turn off the Ipod and deal! Here is where the rubber meets the road! Ninety percent of effective parenting is not saying things you don’t mean, and making the things you say mean something!
Tonight as I was sending my children up to bed my six year old began to stall. He was grinning slyly as if he were getting away with it and I was tempted to just let it go, after all bedtime in our house is a fairly soft deadline. (and I was watching Jericho) But, when Dad says something he needs to mean it. Now I was not angry or gruff, but I put an end to his charade and he happily went to bed.
After the incident I kind of half heartedly thought to no one in particular, what is that about? This is generally when God takes me to task. It seems that I am frequently guilty of similar behavior when God gives me instructions. God says, Witness to your neighbor, so I take their garbage cans in from the curb hoping they’ll notice my “lifestyle”. God says Give to the needy, so I clean out my closet and give the leftovers to Goodwill.
Worse yet I often times ignore his instructions completely! Oh I will sing loud in Church that Sunday, maybe even harmonize a little, clap my hands, shuffle my feet, see how much I love you? Or comment in Sunday school, or on someone’s blog when I should be praying for a sick friend or going to visit them, all the time hoping to distract God from his original intent with my “good deeds”.
At the end of his lecture God reminded me of a verse that I don’t think I ever really understood until tonight. God desires obedience more than sacrifice. He wants us to do what he asked not our interpretation of what he really wants, or some substitute. He doesn’t just talk because he likes the sound of his own voice, there is a purpose and a plan, more often than not a time sensitive plan, in every command he gives! Maybe your neighbor needs to hear tonight because he plans to end his or someone else’s life tomorrow. Maybe that friend is going home to be with Jesus and needs your companionship to ease their discomfort, or more likely maybe there is something you will gain from obeying that you will miss otherwise?
At any rate the next time you are tempted to substitute something good for obedience, remember this little verse, turn off your worship CD, close your Bible (yea I said it) open the door, cross the lawn and step out in obedience in whatever God is asking you to do. By the way I often find that some little something I have been asking will suddenly be answered when I cross things off my Sonny Do list.