Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

2 Samuel 15:13-37 (Part 3 of 3)
David Escapes from Jerusalem

As I stated a couple of blogs ago, this series of chapters we are in right now about David and his unruly children could easily be formed into a sermon series about being a father. David shows us in this sequence of chapters, often, what not to do as a dad. Today, we return to that theme of fatherhood. However, this time teaches us, as dads, a valuable lesson of the fact that sometimes we must simply get out of the way and let life teach our children the lessons they need to learn.

With my youngest child, she is now almost 28 years old, I have spent the last few years doing just that – allowing life to teach her the lessons she needs to learn. Often, life lessons learned on our own can teach us so much more than our dads ever could. As I have stated before here, my youngest child never really knew what life was like in a normal household. From the time she was about 2 years old, marital strife was the home that she knew. By the time she was that age, her parents’ marriage (in which God was not the center of it due to our not being Christ followers) was winding its way to its ugly end. Then, after the divorce and my remarriage, I failed her miserably as a dad during the 9 years of my second marriage. Then, while I was single those six years before I married my wonderful and final wife, Elena, I spoiled my youngest girl rotten. Anything she wanted she got. Any immature behaviors were never dealt with. I spoiled her, I admit it, to the point she did not mature as she should have. She was so spoiled that she did not get her first job until she was almost 20 years old. I would bail her out financially at every turn such that she had no incentive to really make something of herself. Her behavior was that of entitlement and expectation that things would be handed to her.

Finally, a few years ago when she was in her mid-twenties, I finally had to say enough is enough after one final act of kindness. We gave her Elena’s car and said this is it. You are on your own now. No more financial assistance. You’ve got to do this yourself. Since that time, she really has not had that much to do with me except when she emerges from her “radio silence” and acts as though she wants to restore our relationship but really she is simply looking for another handout. I have had to show her tough love these last few years. It has pained me terribly. I miss the closeness we once had where she and her crew that she hung around with as teenagers thought I was “the cool dad.” But now, she hardly speaks to me. The last time that I talked to her was probably six months ago in a text exchange by phone. The last time that I talked to verbally was by phone was almost a year ago. The last time that I saw her in person was maybe over a year ago. I hate it. I mean, it is not like I am so angry at her that I do not want to speak to her. I love her so much. But it is by her choice that she does not want to have a real relationship with me anymore. If she showed up here in Illinois at my house right now, I would wrap my arms around her and hold her and cry tears of joy.

However, she did not even come to say goodbye to me the day Elena and left the Upstate of South Carolina to move to northwest Illinois. She has effectively cut me out of her life because I cut her off financially. However, that is how being a dad is sometimes. You have to do things that are going to make your kids hate you at the moment and just let life play out in their lives. It’s not because you hate them. It’s because you love them. Some kids, like my oldest child, who want to become independent and self-sufficient and they will do it. Those kids you can give advice and they will heed it. However, some kids, you just have to let life teach them their lessons that they need to learn. With this type of child, you just sometimes have to quit protecting them and let life happen to them. They may get angry at you for taking the safety net away but you are doing them no maturity favors by keeping the safety net there. You have to take it away, let life happen to them, and just know that you love them regardless of whether they believe that fact or not. That is where I am at with my youngest.

That was the thing that I thought of today when I read this passage for the second time of three readings that I have planned for this passage, 2 Samuel 15:13-37 – that idea that sometimes, as a parent, you just have to step out of the way and let life happen to your kids. Let’s read the passage now:

13 A messenger soon arrived in Jerusalem to tell David, “All Israel has joined Absalom in a conspiracy against you!”

14 “Then we must flee at once, or it will be too late!” David urged his men. “Hurry! If we get out of the city before Absalom arrives, both we and the city of Jerusalem will be spared from disaster.”

15 “We are with you,” his advisers replied. “Do what you think is best.”

16 So the king and all his household set out at once. He left no one behind except ten of his concubines to look after the palace. 17 The king and all his people set out on foot, pausing at the last house 18 to let all the king’s men move past to lead the way. There were 600 men from Gath who had come with David, along with the king’s bodyguard.[a]

19 Then the king turned and said to Ittai, a leader of the men from Gath, “Why are you coming with us? Go on back to King Absalom, for you are a guest in Israel, a foreigner in exile. 20 You arrived only recently, and should I force you today to wander with us? I don’t even know where we will go. Go on back and take your kinsmen with you, and may the Lord show you his unfailing love and faithfulness.[b]”

21 But Ittai said to the king, “I vow by the Lord and by your own life that I will go wherever my lord the king goes, no matter what happens—whether it means life or death.”

22 David replied, “All right, come with us.” So Ittai and all his men and their families went along.

23 Everyone cried loudly as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness.

24 Zadok and all the Levites also came along, carrying the Ark of the Covenant of God. They set down the Ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices[c] until everyone had passed out of the city.

25 Then the king instructed Zadok to take the Ark of God back into the city. “If the Lord sees fit,” David said, “he will bring me back to see the Ark and the Tabernacle[d] again. 26 But if he is through with me, then let him do what seems best to him.”

27 The king also told Zadok the priest, “Look,[e] here is my plan. You and Abiathar[f] should return quietly to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. 28 I will stop at the shallows of the Jordan River[g] and wait there for a report from you.” 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the Ark of God back to the city and stayed there.

30 David walked up the road to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and his feet were bare as a sign of mourning. And the people who were with him covered their heads and wept as they climbed the hill. 31 When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, “O Lord, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!”

32 When David reached the summit of the Mount of Olives where people worshiped God, Hushai the Arkite was waiting there for him. Hushai had torn his clothing and put dirt on his head as a sign of mourning. 33 But David told him, “If you go with me, you will only be a burden. 34 Return to Jerusalem and tell Absalom, ‘I will now be your adviser, O king, just as I was your father’s adviser in the past.’ Then you can frustrate and counter Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, will be there. Tell them about the plans being made in the king’s palace, 36 and they will send their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to tell me what is going on.”

37 So David’s friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem, getting there just as Absalom arrived.

In this passage, we see that David, knowingly or not, teaches us another lesson in parenting. Here, we see him just get out of the way and begin to let circumstances play themselves out for Absalom. He could have rushed forward with his army and attacked Absalom by surprise and maybe even captured him before he tried to seize the capitol city. He maybe could have saved face for himself and even Absalom. He could have approached this situation by clandestinely meeting with Absalom and pulled the father/king card in a face to face meeting. However, he chose to step aside and let circumstances begin to play out. Eventually, in the coming passages, Absalom proved that he was not ready to be king like he thought he was. Experience was to be a better teacher than any parental lecture could have been.

Often, we must do the same as parents as David has begun doing here. Sometimes, we must let our children learn the facts of life, so to speak, the hard way. And in many ways, this is often how God deals with us as his children. Because He has set boundaries for us (for our own good not because He wants to keep us from doing things), He lets sin and its consequences play out in our lives so that we can learn the price of sin. Many of us are hardheaded because we love our sins and blame God for holding us back from what we want to do. Many of us blame God when we get in a jam and He has not miraculously pulled us out of the consequences of our sins. We get angry at Him for not bailing us out. We get angry at Him but yet it is our sin, our decisions to sin and rebel against Him, that ensnarls us. It is often NOT that God is punishing us but rather it is that sin always has negative consequences. Our sins often cause our pain. Our sins often cause the jams we get into in life. Our sins create these tangled webs of events and decisions in life that bring us to our knees. It is often only through letting our sins play themselves out in our lives that we are ready to kneel before God in all humility and say “Lord I have truly messed up my life and I need your help!” Even when we do that, God will not erase the long-lasting effects of our sins. He will let them play themselves out so that we learn from them and turn from them. It is when we have that a-ha moment that it is ourselves that is the enemy and not God that we are ready to stand before God and beg Him to provide us with the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Some of us are smart and heed God’s Word and accept Christ as our Savior as a young person and follow Him wholeheartedly all of our lives. Some of us are smart in this way and use God’s Word as the standard for their lives from a young age. I admire these folks. They have troubles too but man the impact that such people can have for the kingdom when they follow Jesus from an early age is far beyond what I will ever achieve. Some of God’s children are like me, fools! We lived life hard. Running from God and His Word for most of our lives. Life and the consequences of sin must be our teachers. We learn the hard way from real life examples in our lives of the hard road that sin brings us. For people like me that have to learn the hard way, the road to the cross is long, hard, and filled with cuts, scrapes, bruises, and broken bones. For God’s kids like me, we come to Him only after we have been down the road and find ourselves at the bottom of the valley and have hit rock bottom. I was age 39 when I finally came to my senses and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Man, if I could go back and do it all over again, it would have saved me so much heartache and pain, but that’s the past. My mess is part of my message. I learned the hard way to the cross. But just as I would run to the street to greet my youngest daughter and give her a great big welcome home hug if I saw her right now, God is waiting for you and me with a great big hug and tears of joy…if you will just come home!

Amen and Amen.

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2 Samuel 13:23-39
Absalom’s Revenge on Amnon

In my second marriage, I inherited three boys. They were ages 9, 6, and 3, respectively, when I became their stepdad. I had the delusion that being a stepdad would be no different than being a dad. With their dad not really being a part of their lives, I figured that I would be their dad as if I was their biological dad. I figured that it would be a story book, Brady Bunch kind of thing. I figured that I would raise the boys like I had been raising my girls. I just knew that it would be a Hollywood ending to the nightmare that I had been living with my first wife. I had suffered through an affair, drug addiction, scrapes with the law, financial disaster with my first wife. My second marriage was an escape into normalcy I thought. And it seemed that way when we were dating and not sharing a home. During our time before we shared a home, I did not get to see the details. I saw bits and pieces, not the whole picture.

When we set up our home together, things began to change quickly and the one issue that was core and cause to all our other issues in our marriage was the my kids vs. your kids issue. If you are contemplating a post-first marriage where there are kids still at home and those kids are from your respective previous marriages, this one issue must be dealt with before you set up house together. It is a marriage killer. I can attest to it. You must deal with how and who will discipline the children. If you cannot mesh your parenting philosophies you should not get married, plain and simple. My second wife and I did not deal with this issue or even really discuss it before we set up house together and this one issue lead to the breakdown of our marriage and led to all the other issues that ultimately blew up the marriage. The Bible tells us that we are to discipline our children and to raise them up in the ways of God. Neither of those things happened in my second marriage. I am not alone in this issue. Most second marriages are rocked by this very issue. If you have delusions of the Brady Bunch, if you are dating someone and you both have kids from previous marriages, wake up.

One of the core issues was that I was expected to be the disciplinarian of her children but I had no power. The boys had been raised pretty much by my second wife alone. My second wife seemed to want to be more the boys friend than she wanted to be a parent. Because of the way they had to grow up in an battleground of a home between their birth dad and their mom, they became spoiled. They did whatever they wanted and there were often little, if any, consequence to bad behavior. They were spoiled overly so by the kids’ maternal grandparents. They were never really disciplined as a result. My second wife would yell at them for bad behavior daily but there was never any consequence. As a result, they became destructive to property and mean to each other and others. There were no rules for them growing up. So by the time I came into the picture the cast was set.

When I tried to enforce consequences for actions, they would go behind my back to their mom and negotiate their way out of trouble. My second wife did not want to be inconvenienced by how much disciplining children often puts us out as parents. When we take away their freedoms or force them to do things as repayment for bad behavior, it often is so inconvenient to us as parents. Thus, she would succumb to their negotiations. A few tears and a lot of whining would get their punishments whittled down over a matter of hours to nothing. Any discipline that I meted out then was subject to negotiation with their mom. It got to the point that as they grew into teens and pre-teens that my discipline meant nothing to them. It was a horrible, horrible situation. My house became so unruly that I just gave up. The boys were always in trouble at school. The boys became thugs who thought they could do what they wanted when they wanted it and that if they got in trouble they could negotiate their way out of it. It makes me sick right now reliving that marriage in my mind. It was a horrible experience.

In raising my own children, they were girls so they were easier to discipline. However, it was because from the time they were babies, there was discipline enforced. Bad behavior had consequences. So, by the time my second marriage rolled around, they were 10 and 5 and well-behaved for the most part. If my first wife and I did one thing right, it was the discipline of our children. They knew boundaries and they knew discipline. So, most times, I could look at my girls in a stern way and they would stop what they were doing. Usually, too, when they were told not to do something or punished for having done something, they learned not to do that again and they wouldn’t. However, the boys, with their lack of consequences over their early years, would repeatedly do the same things that were punishable over and over and over again because there was no consequence to bad behavior.

The difference in how I raised my girls and how my second wife raised her boys was the undoing of our marriage. We split up in 2004 over my kids vs. your kids primarily among a host of other issues that were caused by it. That’s what I thought of this morning as I read about, again, how David did nothing to discipline his children, again. The rape of Tamar was not dealt with. Now the murder of Amnon was not dealt with. David is setting his self up for failure by his lack of discipline for his children. It would be the undoing of his kingdom and lead to civil war eventually. Let us read this latest episode of David ineptitude in dealing with his kids:

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheep were being sheared at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to come to a feast. 24 He went to the king and said, “My sheep-shearers are now at work. Would the king and his servants please come to celebrate the occasion with me?”

25 The king replied, “No, my son. If we all came, we would be too much of a burden on you.” Absalom pressed him, but the king would not come, though he gave Absalom his blessing.

26 “Well, then,” Absalom said, “if you can’t come, how about sending my brother Amnon with us?”

“Why Amnon?” the king asked. 27 But Absalom kept on pressing the king until he finally agreed to let all his sons attend, including Amnon. So Absalom prepared a feast fit for a king.[a]

28 Absalom told his men, “Wait until Amnon gets drunk; then at my signal, kill him! Don’t be afraid. I’m the one who has given the command. Take courage and do it!” 29 So at Absalom’s signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled.

30 As they were on the way back to Jerusalem, this report reached David: “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons; not one is left alive!” 31 The king got up, tore his robe, and threw himself on the ground. His advisers also tore their clothes in horror and sorrow.

32 But just then Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimea, arrived and said, “No, don’t believe that all the king’s sons have been killed! It was only Amnon! Absalom has been plotting this ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 No, my lord the king, your sons aren’t all dead! It was only Amnon.” 34 Meanwhile Absalom escaped.

Then the watchman on the Jerusalem wall saw a great crowd coming down the hill on the road from the west. He ran to tell the king, “I see a crowd of people coming from the Horonaim road along the side of the hill.”[b]

35 “Look!” Jonadab told the king. “There they are now! The king’s sons are coming, just as I said.”

36 They soon arrived, weeping and sobbing, and the king and all his servants wept bitterly with them. 37 And David mourned many days for his son Amnon.

Absalom fled to his grandfather, Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. 38 He stayed there in Geshur for three years. 39 And King David,[c] now reconciled to Amnon’s death, longed to be reunited with his son Absalom.[d]

Here in this passage, we see that David’s weakness was his personal life – his own lustful desires and his inability to deal properly or discipline his own children. Without his father or anyone else to keep him in check, Absalom probably did pretty much what he wanted when he wanted. Undoubtedly, his good looks added to his self-centeredness (see 2 Samuel 14:25). David only made half-hearted efforts to correct his children. His did not punish Amnon for his sin against Tamar, nor did he deal decisively and swiftly with Absalom’s murder. Such indecisiveness became David’s undoing. When we do not deal with the wrongdoing of our children, they can grow up thinking that they can do whatever they want whenever they want. When we deal directly with their misbehavior and sins, we will likely deal with greater pain later than if we had dealt with it immediately. Children need boundaries and discipline. We must use their wrong actions as opportunities to teach them about consequences and the difference between right and wrong.

To all those who are about to marry for a second time where there are kids on both sides, let my second marriage be a warning to you to deal with the my kids vs. your kids issues before you get married. If you cannot agree, walk away now! It will be the undoing of your marriage if you do not.

To all those who are about to marry for the first time or any subsequent time, you are not to be your child’s friend. You are to be their parent. If you try to be their friend, you will destroy any chance they have to be a productive citizen in this world. The world does not care if you have reasons for your bad behavior, you simply pay the price for it. They can’t negotiate their way out of things in this world and to raise them as if they can does them a disservice. You must discipline your children and enforce that discipline even if means they say they hate you at the moment. You are not here to win a popularity contest with them. You are here to be their parent.

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

Dealing with a Rebellious Son

Have you ever thought in your mind, “Man, I just wanna kill that kid!” Many of us, even as believers, have become exasperated with our children that we have used this term as a hyperbolic statement, though we do not mean it literally. This passage is another one of those harsh Old Testament passages that we, as maturing Christians in the 21st century would just as soon ignore as to have to explain it to less mature Christ followers or, at worst, to non-believers. To stone a rebellious child seems excessively harsh. It is in complete contrast to what we often see today in parenting.

 

Often times today, we see parenting in public or when visiting friends with young children where you see the parents trying to be “enlightened” in their parenting. They want to negotiate their children into good behavior. They treat their child as if to anger the child could be the worst possible thing. They tolerate temper tantrums as they try to reason with their child. You often see children of such parents become just little brutes that are incorrigible. Children of such parents can sense their parents’ disciplinary weakness early on and take advantage of it. Children who do not respect their parents often grow up to be insolent and disrespectful adults. And, watching this enlightened parenting just misses the whole fact that children actually do desire their parents to give them guidance and boundaries. Children are wired to want their parents to be parents to them. It has been statistically proven that children who grow up in homes where they were not disciplined are more likely to become criminals. Children need their parents to be authoritarian and set rules and boundaries that are intended to make them become responsible adults and that there are real consequences for bad behavior. When you see parents try to reason with their 4 year old while he or she is having a meltdown, you just wanna go over to them and just say, “you iiiiidiot!” (reference to Ren & Stempy Show). There are times that we need to discipline our children to teach them that there are consequences for bad behavior. We must teach them to respect us as the final authority in the home.

 

My dad, the man who I could write about his oft-repeated sayings, had a saying about this, “as long as you push your feet up under my table, you will do what I say!” He meant that as long as I am living in his home, I will obey his directions. There was no negotiation. He was dad and I was son. I knew where the limits were. I knew who was in authority. I did not always like and he would make me so angry sometimes with all his rules and consequences. But one thing is for sure when I was growing up in my dad’s house was that I respected him. I knew he was the boss and I was the subordinate. It is ironic that I write about this today. It is my dad’s 78th birthday today. After living these 54 ½ years of my own, I do appreciate that my dad had expectations of my behavior. I do appreciate that he had boundaries for me growing up. I do appreciate that he was consistent in his application of those rules. He was always very clear where the boundaries of behavior were and was consistent about consequences being applied when those boundaries were crossed. I am thankful that my dad was just as much a disciplinarian as he was the dad that would play football with us, wrestle with us, and do fun stuff with us. I have told my dad on several occasions that I had no complaints about how he raised me. He made me into a man who could function and survive and thrive in the world. That’s all a dad wants for his kids – for them to be able function, survive, and even thrive in a rough world out there that is “not all about them!” The world is a no-excuses, suck-it-up-buttercup kind of place and a dad wants his kids to make in that world.

 

18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

 

In this passage, disobedient and rebellious children were to be brought before the elders of the city and stoned to death. There is no biblical evidence that this punishment was ever carried out. However, the point of the passage seems to be that disobedience and rebelliousness against one’s parent in the parental home was not to be tolerated or allowed to go unchecked. This passage was not a license to publicly or privately abuse children.

 

Note that it requires the agreement of both the mother and father. Both the father and mother must take hold of the child and bring him to the public place of justice. Have you ever met a mother than would be willing to have her child publicly stoned even in the worst of circumstances? Fathers may have a lower threshold for the disobedience of children but mothers, by nature of how they are wired and by the fact that giving birth to another human being and nursing them, are the unconditional lovers of their children. Therefore, to have a mother who is willing to take hold of her son along with her husband, there must have been some longstanding, longsuffering point that has been reached in the parents’ relationship with this child. And, too, even though dads are often tougher on kids that their moms, would a dad really want to see his son stoned? It must have had to be a really, long series of problems with a son that parents would have come close to even considering this remedy and it took them both being in complete agreement on it.

 

I think back to raising my girls over the years. Often the threat of “the black spirit of power”, what I called my belt (a term I borrowed from the master of sayings, my dad), was as much a deterrent for bad behavior as the actual use of it. I had to whip both my girls on a handful of occasions only. The threat of punishment though was used many, many times. I think this passage acts in that vein. Parent, instead of saying, “you better chill out! You don’t want a whipping, do you?” Back then, they could have said, “You better chill out! I could take you to the city gates and have you stoned, you know!” So, before we start talking about how harsh God is in the Old Testament, let us remember that there is no biblical evidence that this requirement was none other than for deterrent’s sake.

 

God wanted the household to be a model of our relationship with Him. Parents should be the ultimate authority in the home just as God is the ultimate authority in our lives. Rebellion against parents should have consequences, just as our rebellion against God has its consequences. We are destined for hell because we are rebellious children of God. It is only when we accept God’s authority in our lives through accepting Christ as our Savior and Lord that our rebellion is wiped away. In the absence of accepting God’s authority in our lives through Jesus, we are destined to pay the price for our sins – an eternity cast out into the fiery pit of hell. We are cast outside the city gates of heaven. We are willful children having a meltdown when we do not obey God’s commands and submit ourselves to His authority. Let us, as parents remember the consequences of our rebellion against God and how long it took so many of us to come to our senses. Let us then raise our children to respect us so that they will respect God. Let us raise our children to understand that there are consequences to bad behavior so that they will be more readily able to understand the consequences of sin and about submitting to the authority of God in their lives.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 11:1-15 (Part 2)

The People Complain to Moses

Sometimes being a parent can be exasperating. It is the toughest job you will ever have. When your child is a newborn baby up til about 6 months old, you play a guessing game as to what is making them cry. Are they hungry? Do they have wet or messy diaper? Are they sick in some way? Sometimes you are clueless as to how to make them stop crying. Sometimes the crying goes on and on and on and you have done everything you know to do. And then there is the lack of sleep. Getting up 2 or 3 times in the night. Walking around like zombie with “I have a newborn baby in the house” brain where you brain is not functioning properly because of lack of sleep. You feel like you are outside yourself watching yourself function. Then, life, you think, begins to get a little easier when your child starts sleeping through the night (a praise to God when that happens, huh?). When the start crawling, you have a whole ‘nother set of problems. No longer can you just carry them on your hip, you must watch them constantly and keep them from putting their fingers in electrical sockets, pulling things off end tables and so on. Then, there’s the whole getting them dressed thing at this age. What an ordeal that can be? Who designs these clothes for infants anyway? Then, they start walking and talking in the toddler years. Those are the years where rebellious attitudes begin and you hear “no”, “mine”, and temper tantrums in the grocery store, where you think of the old Southwest Airlines ad campaign where something embarrassing happens and the voice over says, “wanna get away?”

 

Then, there are elementary school years where you worry when they go off to school as to how they are going to react to being away from you most of the day and how you are going to react to them being away from you. There titanic dramas at school that must be dealt with. How to stand up to a problem that won’t go away at school. How to defend oneself and yet not be a bully. How to deal with bullies. How to deal with social pressure and people making fun of you. Trying to get your elementary school kid to do homework. Trying to get your elementary school kid to understand a math or science concept or an English grammar concept when, though you know it yourself, cannot find the words to properly explain it to your kid. And, if you kid just somehow innately hates school and homework, although you loved school, can be like two nations coming together to negotiate a peace treaty after long and dreadful war.

 

Then, come the middle school years and social media and 24/7 involvement of other kids in their lives. Cell phones, dances, and heartbreaks. Gossip that can be dreadfully painful. He said. She said. Heartbreak over romances. Fist fights. Girl fights. Boy fights. Algebra. Field trips. Fund raisers. I need money for this thing at school. I need money for that thing at school. I forgot my lunch money. Can you take me to the mall? Cliques. Developing into women. Developing into men. Rebellious attitudes. Wanting to be an adult (when it’s advantageous). Wanting to be a child (when it’s advantageous). Homework! School projects! Boys! Girls! Trying to help them navigate through the landmine filled world that is the junior high social scene.

 

Then come the high school years. Peer pressure increases. Social media influences exponentially increase. Them thinking they’ve found the love of their life. Desperately in love. Sexual intercourse. Fears that they are having sex. Fears that they are going to get someone pregnant or get pregnant. Really hard subjects in school that require late night study and since they now teach things in middle school that you learned in high school and your child is taking subjects that are beyond your own abilities that you are at a loss as to how to help them. Them not wanting to go to college but you wanting them to because you know their life will be limited without a college degree. They can’t understand your rules and curfews and groundings when they disobey. They hate you. They complain about you. They want all the toys and gadgets and expect you to pay for them. You use the hated phrase from your own childhood, “Because I said so” and “for as long as you live in my house and sit down at my table for meals” more often than you would like.

 

And, then…they leave home to go to college and there are the mighty financial burdens that it brings and hoping and praying that they make the right choices about life and drinking and partying and driving and fraternity parties and fraternity guys and … and … then they graduate … and they are gone … and though you still have them as a big part of your life, but it’s different. They are on their own…they are gone.

 

You miss all the troubles and travails of parenting them. You miss all the classic family moments that live in your family’s memories forever. Those moments of seemingly unending laughter at the dinner table. Those victory moments in a child’s life, a teenager’s life. You miss those moments where they crawl up in your lap and ask you to make it all better. You miss those moments when they see you when you come home from work and they run and jump into your arms. Ah, you miss it all. The heartaches, the heartbreaks, the laughter, the tears, the drama, the victories, the defeats, the highs and the lows, the hugs, the kisses, those classic moments that burn into family memory. It’s all different now. You miss the long and winding road of parenting a child. It’s different when they are adults and, yes, they still need you as adult children but it’s different from the time when they are at home. It just is and you miss it.

 

You miss it even though it was most freaking hard, exasperating, vexing, anger-inducing, insanity-inducing, yet completely fun, satisfying, fulfilling thing you have ever done – being a parent. I don’t know why but the exasperating parts of being a parent (the toughest job you’ll ever love) is what I thought about when I read through this passage, Numbers 11:1-15, today for the second and final time today. I think it was because I was concentrating on what is known as “Moses’ Lament” in vv. 10-15:

 

 

11 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah,[a] because fire from the Lord had burned among them.

Quail From the Lord

 

4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

 

7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

 

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

 

Here, Moses is like a completely exasperated parent of teenager who insists on being rebellious even though you see that they have got it made living with you. With our teenage kids, and particularly if you have managed to do well in your own career and have a good financial situation, they seem to think that the 2,000 plus square foot house, the three or four cars in the yard, one of which you have given to them, and the nice clothes and the nice neighborhood, and the nice teenage gadgets, and the nice vacations, and the cash is all entitlement. They think it’s a baseline. They do not realize what a blessing all of the trappings of their life is. They don’t see all the hard work that brought them this life. They do not appreciate the dedication that you have to providing for your family. They are just used to certain expectations and think that they don’t have enough. It can be exasperating and sometimes we as parents have to let off steam to someone we trust about our children when they seem to want more and more but yet have plenty.

 

That’s how I see Moses’ Lament here. He’s just fed up. They have just barely begun their journey and the people are complaining about the daily miracle of manna that provides for their needs abundantly is not good enough. They want more. They want what they don’t have. Moses is fed up. He is tired of hearing what a “bad parent” he is for taking them out in the middle of the desert. He is just fed up with the bellyaching. We all have those moments as parents where we just want to go out in the woods and scream to the top of our lungs and punch a tree because our kids have exasperated us so much and we don’t want to take our anger out on them. Moses here goes and complains to the only one he can, his Father in heaven. Reactly badly to the bad behavior of the children of Israel would have made the situation worse. So, Moses goes to God to vent his anger. As we see Moses here, we see him as just as human as we are. He’s pissed off at his kids because of their whining and complaining about their wants when all their needs are being met.

 

I think that’s the takeaway here for me today. God wants us to come to Him with all our baggage. He wants us to come to Him when we are angry and pissed off. He wants us to run our anger by Him before we react to situations. He wants all of us. He wants to hear us when we are happy and when we are sad. He wants to come to him with our joys and our sorrows. He wants to hear from us when we are angry. He even wants to hear from us when we are angry at Him. He is the Creator of the Universe so I think He can handle it when I am angry at Him. He doesn’t want some pre-canned table prayers from us. He wants the real us. He wants to hear it all from us. He wants us to be intimate with Him. He wants our inside the store prayers not our storefront prayers. He wants us to really talk to Him and be intimate with Him. Moses was very intimate with the Lord as we know from Scripture. He talked to Him everyday as we see from Scripture. That intimacy allowed Moses to be able to vent to God and for God to diffuse Moses anger toward his people. Let us be able to go the Lord with our anger at others and at Him and work through it and find the best way to respond to situations.

 

As we see Moses go on from here and he deals with much with the children of Israel, but it is evident that he loved them. He stuck by them. He led them. He loved them. It was frustrating at times. But I guarantee you that Moses missed it all when we watched his people leave his parenting and go into the Promised Land. It was the toughest job of His life but He loved His people Israel. They drove him crazy but he loved them. Moses learned, as we as parents have to learn, that we must take everything to God in prayer. We cannot make godly decisions without being constantly in prayer to God. How can we take on the daunting task of being parents without being intimately in prayer constantly with God. And God wants it all. He wants or questions, our doubts, our anger, our joy, our sorrows, our highs, our lows. He wants it all.

 

 

Amen and Amen.