Lessons In Mercy From A 3 Year Old

theRKF Christian Life

I’m very blessed to be a father, for a multitude of reasons. One of the greatest blessings is one that I underestimated prior to Wesley’s arrival in January ’05. Our heavenly Father teaches us much through the shepherding of the children He has entrusted into our care. One such lesson was taught me on Thursday night.

It had been a bad kid day. Several late nights in a row meant the rascals were really rascals that day, disobeying Mommy at every turn. Things didn’t get better when I got home. Finally, it was bed time, and I took the kids to their room to get their PJs on. After some prolonged defiance, Wesley was directed to remain in his bed for the night in the shorts he was wearing, not PJ shorts. This didn’t go over well …

Several times over the next 1/2 hour Wesley would get out of bed to announce his displeasure with great volume. Finally, his anger turned to pleading. As I stood in the hallway waiting for Wesley to again leave his room (whereby I would again return him to his bed) I listened to his crying and was struck by the thought: What is the difference between his crying right now and my pleading prayers to my Father? Both Wesley and I had sinned, both deserving punishment. Should I now extend mercy to my son? What about raising him and disciplining him, teaching him what is right?

I stood and pondered these things for longer than I’d like to admit. In the end, the answer did come to me: the issue was sin. Yes, Wesley was calling out for me, to be released from his punishment, but his method was sinful. If we go to our God in blatant defiance of His commands and expect mercy, we’re likely to be very disappointed. It’s not that I am without sin – not at all – but, that in being redeemed by the blood of Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit I am able to understand and to learn what my God requires of me. I read His Word and learn how to approach Him humbly in prayer, putting my life and my requests in His hands.

My prayer now is that Wesley would learn the same lesson, by God’s grace. Not so much to reduce the tantrums – no, it’s so that in our morning prayers we can be united in spirit, being of the same Spirit. I long for the days that I pray will come soon, when we pray not just as father and son, but as brothers in Christ. And I thank God for the mercy He does show the redeemed by bending down to hear the prayers of one so sinful and insignificant as I.