"Dad," he spoke through tears, "does God still love me?" He had just received a swat on the bottom for being disoedient after having been warned several times.
I responded with love, "Of course God still loves you son. And I still love you too."
"But Dad, why did you spank me if you love me?", he asked innocently.
As a father I secretly celebrate inside when teachable moments like this one occur.
This was an important exchange between my son and I for two reasons:
1. It was important to me because I wanted Jonthan to know that God will always love him. Even when I might be inconsistent, unfair, and irrational God will always love him regardless of what he might do now and in the future.
2. It was important for Jonathan to know that there will always be someone to turn to in his moments of crisis.
I responded (arms wrapped around him) without preaching, "Jonathan, I spanked you BECAUSE I love you. If I didn't care about you or how you treated others I would not have done anything at all."
His silence, for the next 15 seconds, was golden. Then he spoke, "Dad, does God swat you when you do something wrong?"
I laughed silently only for a moment. It was my turn. I wasn't silent. But, I was silenced. God had just spoken to me through my child at a time when I least expected it. I thought to myself, "of course that's NOT God's role in our lives." But, how was I going to explain God's role in my life to my 6 year old son?
God must have been secretly celebrating at this "teachable moment" only this time I was the child.
"Jonthan," I said unsure of what comes next, "Do you love me?"
"Yea", he said.
"How do you think it makes daddy feel when you do something wrong?" I asked begging for the right answer.
"Angry," he said.
"Well, I guess when I do something wrong it makes God sad. And I don't like to make God sad because I love him."
"Is God Angry with you Dad?" he asked taking the next logical step.
"Angry...No, I don't think he's angry...uhm--mostly just sad." I said unsure of myself.
"So when I do something wrong that makes God sad and it makes you mad?" he asked.
"Yes, that's right." I said. "But it makes me sad too because sometimes I have to discipline you and I don't like having to discipline you.
"I don't like it either Dad. (pause) Dad, do you still love me now?"
"Of course I do Jonathan. I'll always love you.
"I love you too Dad."
I tell this story because, as a father, I am constantly amazed at how God uses our children to teach us in ways that no one else ever could. There is a special relationship between a father and his children and it's not accidental that we have been created this way.
Mike Farrell and his wife Dawn have been married for 10 years. They have three children: 2 boys and 1 girl: Jonathan (7), Meg (3) and Luke (2). A 1991 graduate from Boise State University, Mike has a B.A. in English. A native of Idaho, Mike works as a professional in Information Technology. But his real passion is with his family. Mike is the owner, operator and Senior Editor for http://fatherville.com
As a relatively new father, I know where you're coming from. Our kids often teach us the most amazing lessons. One lesson I have found most amazing of all is that no matter how hard disciplining your child is, often it results in the child feeling closer to you than ever. I guess that's why God disciplines us when we need it.
This was as sweet as Christmas candy, Mike. I never really like to discipline my son. You see, I'm a step-dad, but the birth father was never in the picture, so I was the only dad Jared ever really knew. Even now, with Jared being eighteen, I still find it hard to correct him. It's more of a heart to heart with him and let him learn form pass mistakes.