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Points to Ponder: Like father, like child?

Points to Ponder
Like father, like child?
By Pastor Whitmore
Weekly Contributing Writer

Being a parent has helped me to understand God a little better. Many parents can testify to the fact that you've never loved anyone the same way you love your own child. This little person who never existed during your earlier decades, suddenly comes along and viola, he/she takes center stage and top priority. You sacrifice years of restful sleep, countless thousands of dollars for care, feeding, and emergency room visits, and multiple weekends and vacation days going to places you otherwise would never choose to go. In summary, you pour your life into this person and willingly sacrifice whatever it takes to help him/her to live an abundant life.
Now you would think that this child with the full belly, the warm bed, the abundance of toys, and the knowledge that his/her schedule of activities is paid for and catered to by these loving parents, would be humbly grateful. If a parent would ask for help around the house, the child of course would gladly oblige. (You're chuckling.) Some actually do comply, but many others will gripe and moan over the imposition. You want me to do what?
Among the first things a parent has to teach their children are the words "please" and "thank you." Manners do not come naturally. Gratitude is also something that has to be taught. Certainly you can withhold something from the child until she says "please"; however, it is totally voluntary on her part if the child utters a "thank you" upon receiving it. And in the beginning stages (which can last several years), the expression of gratitude will be obligatory and without sincerity. It's especially difficult to teach children in our culture how to be thankful. I tell our kids they are rich, but they don't believe it. How can they know what being rich is when they were never poor?
Now how does all this help me to understand something about God?
I think back over the years, how I lived my life and expected God to be on call if I needed Him. I prayed for healing when I occasionally got sick; however, I never thanked Him for the many months and years of perfect health.
When we were growing up, I never went hungry or without clothing and shoes; but I also never thanked Him for our food and for anything else we had. We hear talk of the need for entitlement reform; yet the reformation should begin right in our own hearts.
How many of us treat God's blessings as entitlements? Are you entitled to have a job, to have a coat in the winter, a car to go places, and food in your refrigerator? In the church, we are somewhat jaded when a family visits only because they need money or food. Up until then, they had no use for any church. Sometimes we all are guilty of living without a conscious awareness of the goodness and love of God. We have forgotten how to live thankfully and joyfully as blessed children.
When I get frustrated over how my kids totally disregard something I have done for them, I remember that God has every right to look on me with similar disgust.
As a teenager, the Spirit of God pricked my conscience (who else could it have been?). My dad was generous and giving, and would often do things he didn't want to do because he valued what it meant to me. And I never thanked him. I didn't even greet him very warmly when I came home from school. I had that surly attitude that a lot of teens and young adults have; a sort of "the world revolves around me, I'll recognize you when I need to" type of attitude. My dad never let it get to him. But his consistently kind, even-tempered demeanor did get to me.
I became convicted as I saw clearly the kind of ungrateful son I had been. I consciously began to work on that. I think he forgave me for how I was before. That's grace. And now, as a dad myself, I've come full circle. I can see the father's and the child's perspective. And God's love is the model toward which we must strive: to be a father like He is; and to become the loving, obedient, respectful child, which He deserves.
Meanwhile, I have to remember what God must be seeing in my attitude and behavior. When I see those traits in my kids, I must also remember how God has been dealing with me.
"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"
(Romans 2:4)

Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring. Listen to Rev. Whitmore on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs at 10:45 a.m. & p.m. & Wed at 10:45 a.m.

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