It was as exciting as Christmas morning.
Our girls had been asking us for a Wii since last summer. So, when a friend from church said he was selling his used Wii system, we knew this was too good an opportunity to pass up.
We surprised our daughters with it as a way to celebrate the end to their school year and my husband explained to the girls how proud we were of their hard work and their many achievements.
The girls jumped around the living room squealing and hugging us. My oldest announced, “I just can’t stop thanking you enough!”
Giving good gifts to our children brings me incredible joy—to see them so excited, so grateful, so delighted to have the desire of their little hearts placed into their hands. Matthew 7:11 tells us, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
If giving the perfect gift excites me, I can only imagine those moments of divine anticipation as God prepares to bless us. Does He laugh as we dance around the room, full of thanks and praise? Does He hug us as we humbly bow, so aware that we don’t deserve His gracious blessings? Does He wipe away the tears of overwhelming gratitude?
We enjoyed just a taste of that pleasure as our girls popped in the first game and began to play.
Then the whining began when they couldn’t make their guy jump high enough after just one try. The frustration kicked in when they didn’t know how to move their hand to make their bowling ball slide just the right way down the electronic alley. There were angry grunts and declarations that, “it’s too hard.”
Even worse, when the girls played a game together, there was the inevitable struggle over winning and losing graciously. Apparently, kids are not innately “good sports.” At first the winner was kind and encouraging; the loser begrudging and complaining. Then the winner gloated. The loser started declaring, “it’s not fair.” It was war.
Overall, the girls still love this gift and they are getting better at it all the time. As parents, though, there were some moments when we weren’t so sure this was such a good idea. Our gift seemed to be bringing out the worst in them.
But the reality of parenting is that it’s a messy job. And I’m not talking about potty training, dirty diapers and sickness.
We could shuffle along on the outskirts of our kids’ character and life would be pretty easy. If we closed our eyes to their weaknesses and ignored their mistakes, this would all be more “fun.”
We’d be failures, though.
Sometimes we have to put on the big muddy rubber boots and wade into the mess in order to pull out the gunk that is sin and human nature and weakness.
We have to buy one toy and insist our kids learn to share. We have to play games and teach losers how to lose and winners how to win. We have to look in the face of a defeated child and remind her that the best things in life are worth working hard for and that giving up simply ensures failure.
It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it—and that someone is us.
In the same way, the circumstances God gives us, the jobs He calls us to, the ministries He lays in our hand, the responsibilities He entrusts us with and the relationships He places in our lives often bring out the worst in us. They certainly do for me. There are times that I am shocked and embarrassed when all my “uglies come out” (to quote Lysa TerKeurst).
God’s not surprised, though. Our heavenly Father never shirks His parental job and uses these opportunities to deal with the sin that is bubbling to the surface of our hearts.
This is why “iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). God uses conflict to mature us.
This is why we should “count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-3). Trials mold our character and make us more like Christ.
Spoiled children that we often are, we might think God always needs to give us the gift we so desire, the blessing we’ve been longing for, and the success we see others enjoying. Yet, we’d never grow, never mature, never get one tiny bit closer to Jesus in a life free of conflict and trouble.
Proverbs 30:12 says, “Don’t imagine yourself to be quite presentable when you haven’t had a bath in weeks” (MSG).
We might at times do just that, walking around without any awareness of our own mess. Then something like a Wii brings out the worst in us. We want to give up. We fight with our brother or sister. We whine about how hard it is and how unfair.
Sometimes that’s a good thing–as long as we’re willing to let God scrub at us for a while and deal with the sin that surfaces. Then we can enjoy the gifts He’s given fully and completely and He can laugh with us in delight and bless us with His favor. It’s a dirty job and He’s just the One to do it.
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Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2012 Heather King