Thursday, October 13, 2011

Strong-Willed Child -- A 3 AM Lesson

Yes, it was a 3 AM morning…meaning this is when God wakes me up to have a conversation. This morning it was about my strong-willed child. I was really surprised by the number of parents that hit “like” on my Facebook post about raising a strong-willed child. I know that there are others out there in cyberspace raising a strong-willed child, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like. Sometimes it feels very lonesome because the discipline issues can be so daunting.

I love God by the way. His Word is living and active and is as relevant today as it was the day it was penned. For the past week, I’ve really been struggling with my strong-willed child. I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed the power of the blood of the cross from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet! So, at 3 AM this morning when God woke me wide awake it was to remind me of the story of Jacob.

Just to refresh your memory. Jacob was a thief. He stole Esau, his twin brother’s blessing, and then went on the run for fear Esau would kill him. In Genesis 32, Jacob is returning home and has sent a messenger ahead to meet his brother. When the messenger returns, they tell him that Esau is bringing 400 men. In a panic, Jacob divides his people into two groups hoping that at least one will survive. “9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” Point of encouragement – God knows what it takes to bring a strong-willed child to pray.

The next day he sends his people in waves out to meet Esau, and each wave is instructed to tell Esau these gifts were from his servant Jacob. Jacob’s gifts went ahead of him. Point of encouragement – Jacob used his ability to manipulate/maneuver people for his benefit. Yes, this isn’t always a good thing, but in this instance, it preserved his life.

Then Jacob spent the night. This is the point in the story that God reminded me of some things. In verse 24 it says, “24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” God wrestled with Jacob all night. Jacob would not relent. He wouldn’t cry “uncle.” Jacob wouldn’t quit fighting. This is where I’ve been living this past week…my strong-willed child fighting authority. God sooooo knew that I needed this. Jacob fought throughout the night and into morning…Point of encouragement – One day when this child’s will has been shaped and molded, he will have the stamina and ability to stand his ground. (Assuming this child is allowed to live that long – just kidding)

I love what happens next. This is classic for a strong-willed child. “25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak. But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The messenger from God had to physically lay hands on the strong-willed, child of God in order to get the child to submit. You’d think that would be enough, but it wasn’t. Just when you think you are on top of the situation that strong-will child has one more move to make. Jacob says he won’t let go until he blesses him. “I’ll do what you tell me if…” Surrendering or submitting under his own conditions – this is soooo my child.

“27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Did the messenger have to ask his name? Of course not, but it does give Jacob an opportunity to realize who he is and who he is not (God). God’s messenger changes Jacob’s name to Israel. Up until now only two other people had their names changed by God – Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah. The next part of Scripture is true about strong-willed kids (or at least mine). Jacob “struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Did he beat God? No, but he was allowed to survive the whole incident which is a miracle in and of itself – anyone know what I’m talking about? Point of encouragement – These kids are overcomers.

One last point before I close. God was always in control. He didn’t act in anger. He was in control to the very end, and to make sure Jacob/Israel understood that the messenger of God never reveals his name to Jacob. It was irrelevant to the situation, and the messenger was in control of what information and what words to say. As parents we have to be careful of what we say and what we tell our kids during the times that we wrestle with them. Proverbs 3:12 says, “the Lord disciplines those He loves.” Discipline is done in love not anger, and our behavior and our words as their parents need to be the same.

Sorry this is so long, but it is what God was teaching me this morning.
* Scripture from NIV

1 comment:

  1. Boy, I needed that. I've been having the same struggles with my son and praying that God would give me some verses to help mold his will without destroying hos spirit.


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