Mom forwarded me this e-mail devotion and I really liked it, so I'm reproducing it here. The author isLysa TerKeurst
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5 (NIV)
I wanted to tap the two girls sitting on the front row at our church service. And fuss at them in a not so gentle way I tell you. But they were five rows ahead of me and my arm couldn't quite reach.
Since I couldn't physically get their attention, I prepared my "look." You know the one that says a thousand corrective statements with just a cross expression and a raised eyebrow? Yes, that one.
The minute one of them stole a glance in my direction, they were going to know exactly how I felt about their wiggling and obvious lack of attention during the service. Oh, and I should mention, these two gir ls belonged to me. Well, at least one of them did. The other was my daughter's friend who sometimes goes to church with us.
I don't think anyone else really noticed them. They weren't being disruptive to other people. But they weren't acting the way I wanted them to. I wanted them sitting up straight, drinking in the message, and taking notes.
Suddenly, an annoying little thought started to tug at the corners of my mind. "You want your children to act perfectly because it makes you look good. Let that go. They don't need to be sitting up straight furiously taking notes to hear God's message. This is a beautiful time for grace."
I don't much like the Holy Spirit speaking the kind of truth to me that hurts. I was in the mood to fuss at somebody. Two somebodies. Give grace? Now? It wasn't what I wanted but it's exactly what I needed to do in that moment. Soon my daughter's friend peered back to look at me. Despite my feelings, I made the c hoice to smile, wink, and give her a little wave.
Then this wiggly, usually not very affectionate, middle schooler got out of her seat. She walked down the aisle, five rows back, and made her way to me. She threw her arms around me and gave me a hug that preached a thousand sermons right then and there.
Indeed, grace was exactly what was needed in that moment. The rest of the service she sat attentive beside me and even asked a few questions on the way home.
And that's what makes this parenting thing so hard. There are really no textbook answers. It's such a moment by moment balancing act between loving, shepherding, disciplining, extending grace, molding, modeling, loving some more and fussing a little along the way too.
The only way I can navigate this balancing act is to stay close to God. Really close. Rather than seeing God as far off, I have to rely on him as a desperate daughter who needs her Daddy.
Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I like that verse but without quoting it in context, it's stripped of its power. The last 4 words of Philippians 4:5 are the power source that unlocks the peace of God that transcends all understanding.
Those four words are, "The Lord is near."
And because He's near, we don't have to be anxious- we can ask our Lord what to do, how to react, when to discipline and when to give grace. James 1:5 reminds me, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Only God can prepare me with the wisdom and discernment necessary for each and every parenting moment. So I must stay close to Him- ask Him- rely on Him- cry out to Him- and make Him the basis for my parenting.
My goal should never be to raise kids that make me look good. (But, oh, how my flesh craves this!) My goal should be to ask God moment by moment for wisdom to know how to raise kids who proclaim God's goodness in their hearts.
Blessings to you as you ever so delicately search for that balance between discipline and grace as well.
Dear Lord, I am asking for wisdom today to know how to best raise my kids. Help me to know when to discipline and when to give grace. Help me sense Your nearness so I don't feel so alone and overwhelmed with this task of being a mom. In Jesus' Name, Amen.