Friday, December 27, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Obstacles to Following God's Will in Obedience

written by my husband Keith

Renee has blogged more than once about our desire that our children follow God’s will in obedience.  She has given examples from her own life of times when she has, and times when she has not, been obedient to God’s calling and followed His will.  This very blog is an example of a time when Renee has followed God’s will in obedience.  

Each of us can likely think of examples in our own lives where we have felt God’s calling to do something and we have or have not done it.  We can also usually point to an obstacle (or many obstacles) that has stood in our way of responding in obedience to God’s calling.  Again, thinking of this blog, I can point to many times when there were obstacles that stood between Renee and her faithfulness to the blog –busy schedules, late nights, early mornings, sick children, hyperactive children, etc. 
But in obedience, Renee has remained committed to praying God’s Word over our children and sharing those prayers through this blog.
Our childrens’ journeys with God will also come upon obstacles.

I am reminded of the classic Pilgrim’s Progress written by John Bunyan, which chronicled the spiritual journey of the lead character Christian.  Christian’s journey was impeded by several obstacles – e.g., the slough of despond, the valley of humiliation, Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle and Giant Despair.  Despite the impediments and thwarters, Christian remained on the path God had set before him.

“So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”  Deuteronomy 5:32-33. 

“The Lord detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.  Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path; the one who hates correction will die.”  Proverbs 15:9-10.

We desire that our children would, like Christian, overcome any obstacles or thwarters and walk in obedience to God’s will.  Unfortunately there are times when we as parents can ourselves be the obstacle in our children’s response to God’s will.  While we may have the best intentions for our children, our finite minds can often miss what God is trying to do in their lives.  For example, have you ever enrolled your child in an activity because you think it would be good for them – but that activity later conflicts with something else that may be better for them. 

Our boys love soccer (or so we think) so we enrolled them in another class/league this past fall. 
Shortly after the season began, our church began a youth group that conflicted with the soccer schedule.  In a perfect world our kids could have done both, but because of the soccer schedule our boys were only able to participate in the youth group in a limited way. 

Okay, we can’t do it all and this is far from an egregious example of being an obstacle in our children’s lives.  Another example may be a parent that insists his/her college age student get a job during the summer . . . (“because that’s what I did when I was a college student . . .and it will teach them responsibility”) – which prevents them from going on a short term mission project.  Sure, the summer job may be an important step in our child’s maturation or it might just be the most practical decision at that time.  Perhaps God’s will is that the child spend his/her summer in a summer job for a whole host of reasons.  But it may also be that God wants to take our child in a different direction that he knows is best – that may challenge them to follow him in faith despite what may be most practical – that may be used by God to touch the lives of someone else in spiritual or physical need – that might be the turning point in the child’s life that takes them to a whole other level of intimacy with Jesus.

These are the kind of choices life presents: to our children and to us as parents.  We may not intend to be an obstacle in our child’s journey of obedience – but we can be.  All the more reason why we must pray continuously and seek God’s guidance as we guide our children (young and old) so that we can avoid being an inadvertent obstacle in our child’s obedience to God’s higher and perfect will.  Our very love for our children can sometimes lead to obstacles if we are not seeking God’s guidance as to how to direct it. 

“Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.  Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.  Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.  Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.  Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.  How I long for your precepts!  In your righteousness preserve my life.”  Psalm 119:33-40.

We can also pray against other obstacles that may threaten to impede our children’s walk with God – such as friends that may be a negative influence, temptations to follow after the allures of the world, and selfish desires.Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.”  Proverbs 23:19.  I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:104-105.

Dear God, please help our children to walk in obedience to Your will and to follow and respond to Your calling.  Please help our children overcome any obstacle that may prevent them from responding in obedience (even if that obstacle is us as their parents).  Lord, as the Psalmist prayed for guidance, we pray that You would guide us as we parent our children:

·       Teach me, Lord, the way of Your decrees, that I may guide my child in the way they should go.

·       Give me understanding, so that I may keep instruct my child in Your law so that they may obey it with all their heart. 

·       Direct me and my child in the path of Your commands, for there we find delight. 

·       Turn our hearts toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain. 

·       Turn our eyes away from worthless things

·       Preserve our lives according to Your word.

·       How I long for Your precepts for me and my child! 

God let our children follow Your will in obedience!

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