Parenting, Gifts and Free Choice: How It’s All Connected

“Parents are always giving things that are not taken.” Reached by Ally Condie

The quote is ironically, from a young adult novel. I don’t think until you become a parent, a mentor or some kind of authority figure in a young person’s life, that you realize how true this statement is. I think for most of us, we want to spare our children from pain, poor choices, unsafe situations, or a myriad of other things. So we offer wisdom (we hope), we offer advice. We tell stories about our own experiences. Sometimes we offer physical help whether it be a helping hand or a place to stay.  Money.  Most parents would give their lives for their children literally.

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Figuratively, that’s what we do, don’t we? We sacrifice our time, our talents, our money, anything and everything to build into our children, the hope of tomorrow. Many times, much to our chagrin and sadness, the offered gift is ignored, rejected or despised. We’ve all been there.

It can start early. The toddler not wanting the helping hand as they learn to walk. The preschooler saying, “No! I do.” The high schooler, rolling their eyes at you again. Looking at you like you are the weirdest person they know. It hurts. Because our own experience and those of others, has taught us how cruel life can be. How unfair. How listening to a wise piece of advice or letting someone come alongside to help you, can dramatically change a life. But we can’t make our kids understand or accept the gift.

Free choice. It drives me crazy.

Do you think it drives God crazy?

I imagine Him hitting his head against some golden wall in heaven, because it’s less painful than watching us trying to do it ourselves and messing it up. Again. I think the words “I told you so” would feel good to utter, just once, to some Old Testament Israelite…or me.

These are just my own imaginings. I don’t think He’s really like that. I might have at some point but He’s proving me wrong on that score. He is the God of Heaven and Earth and He is good. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:1 NASB) He’s not vindictive. He doesn’t give us what we deserve.  Instead He loves us.  Oh there are consequences for our actions.  Like any good parent, God doesn’t remove them.  But He doesn’t leave us alone in them.  He’s there, we just have to acknowledge Him.

I do think He grieves like any parent when the gifts He offers are ignored, rejected and despised. Again these are just my own thoughts. Especially His Son. A priceless gift who is rejected daily, both by those who profess to believe and follow Him and those who don’t. We reject Him when we disobey Him. When we try to manipulate circumstances and worship our own agendas. When we think our sin is too big for Him to handle. When we put someone else or something else on His rightful throne.

Our Heavenly Father is always giving us things that are we don’t take. Like a sunny day after months of cold. A smile on a bad day. The little things that brighten our daily lives are all gifts from above. But so often we ignore them or reject them. They pass us by in our busyness. When our minds are full of ourselves, our circumstances and our problems.

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God gets this parenting thing. He created it. He is our Heavenly Father.  He loves us as His own.  As parents and moreover as His children, God offers us His love, His power and His wisdom. That’s just a start of His many gifts, freely given to us.

Are we ready to take them?

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.  (James 1:16-18 The Message)

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