Our elementary kids went back to school today after a long Thanksgiving Break. Out of the three, only the eight year old seemed to have a problem with it. He did not want to wake up early, he did not want to eat any breakfast foods in our house ("Why do the bagels have to have all of that stuff on it?"), he did not want to go to school today ("I wish we could do virtual learning everyday so I can sleep in."), and he did not want to wear his coat to school. The forecast today included a freeze warning until 9 AM, and it was only 33°F when they left the house to walk to school (literally only a small block away). I had to tell him, more than once, that he needed to stop complaining. He had to wear that coat to school (even if he did not have to wear it the rest of the day) because it was freezing outside and it would be irresponsible of me to let him go outside without it.
I know that I won the battle of the coat this time. What will I do when he is older, though? Do I expect my sons to know what outerwear is appropriate? Will they rely on their mother to tell them when a light jacket or heavy coat is best? I have already seen a little bit of rebellion with all of my sons, but they have fallen back in line pretty quickly. Their dad definitely helps with that. In the big scheme of things, though, coats are insignificant. I need to be much more concerned about my child's heart than I do about his outer appearance, or about how I will look as a parent.
When God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a new king because Saul had been rejected by God to be the king of Israel, Samuel was concerned about his own safety. He thought that he would be killed for betraying the king. God reassured him and Samuel obeyed. When it came time for Samuel to choose from among Jesse's sons, Samuel really thought the one that looked the part of king would be the anointed one. But Samuel was wrong.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
As much as I want to prepare my kids for the weather, it is more important that I prepare them for the evils of the world. They can figure out how to get warmer, or cooler, but what will they do when they face more sinister challenges? Everyday, they need to outfitted in the Word. We pray with our children everyday, but we also need to be praying over them. As I was watching my kids go to school (making sure they crossed the streets safely), I prayed. I thanked God for for being so Good, and I told Him that I did not understand why He was so good to me (the verse we have been singing for weeks at the end of the worship service). I told Him I wanted my kids to be protected, and blessed. I asked for them to do their best at school and when they are with their friends.
This world can be scary. We try to provide a warm and safe environment for all of our children. We want them to be able to talk to us about their problems, no matter what they are. We want to know what is going on, and we want them to be the ones to tell us. Our kids have been learning that not everyone loves or cares for them, but that they know that their parents love them. More importantly, they need to know that GOD loves them more than even their parents do. I have to remember that too. God loves me, even when I am being a nag to my family. God loves me, even when I have made costly mistakes. God loves me, even when I sing off key. God loves me! With that love, I can love others! I can help others with their groceries or make them a meal. I can be a set of shoulders for someone to cry on. I can pray for my enemies. I can send an encouraging message to someone. I can tell others about what He has done for me and my family. All of these things can show love, love for others, and love for my Lord and Savior. The world is not such a cold place when there is Love.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 (NIV)