“Mom, you are God.”
It was Patrick (Patch) when he was about three. Patricia, pregnant with William, was a “stay-at-home mom” with Anna and Patch. She ran Patch’s world and he stated the obvious.
Patricia, on the other hand, was aghast. She denied it, stopped everything and took some time to explain to him who God really was. Without being deterred in his opinion, he ended the conversation by saying, “No, you are God.” Then he went back to playing, theology discussion over for the day.
Patch was pretty close to right in this sense: PARENTS REPRESENT GOD TO THEIR CHILDREN. It is just the way that God set things up. His little mind could not yet grasp the eternal, infinite, all-powerful Creator/Redeemer. (To be honest, my little mind still has trouble grasping who God is.) What he could see and understand was a parent who loved him, cared for him, and ordered his life.
So we ask this question: If we represent God to our children, what God are we representing? A key scripture that called us higher was Exodus 34:6-7.
"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. . .”
Here’s what we discovered in this passage.
Compassionate: the root word means “to touch.” Touch your children, hug them, kiss them.
Gracious: the root word means “to bend down.” As God came down to us in Christ, so we must learn as parents to get to their eye level. Play with them in the floor, speak with them eye to eye.
Slow to anger: that means slow to anger. Go figure. It doesn’t mean that we are never angry; it just means that we are patient in the learning process with these entrusted to us by our Father.
Abounding in love and faithfulness: the root of abounding has to do with quantity and time. Love and faithfulness cannot be wrapped in a package and given on a birthday. They are demonstrated by our daily investment of time.
Maintaining love to thousands: the root of maintaining is the idea of guarding and protecting. As our children grow, our love can often be best shown by using the word “No” to protect them. Establish boundaries that protect.
Forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin: the root of forgiving is a powerful word that means to accept, to carry, to help, to pardon, to receive, to hold up. We took out of this the idea that forgiveness needs to be expressed and demonstrated, not just said. Make your forgiveness real by showing it. When they did wrong, we taught them to ask for forgiveness and then we showed them that we really did forgive and that our relationship was restored.
He does not leave the guilty unpunished: the root verb really means to visit, to engage, to get involved. You can’t ignore guilt. We can’t let our children live with it; it is a real thing. Punishment for guilt is a step to closure for wrong-doing. It teaches a child that he is responsible. Helping him deal with guilt gives him a new start. Who wouldn’t want that for his children?
As we represent God to our children, let’s keep in mind how God does things. We think that the list above got us going in the right direction. It also made us pray, asking God for his help and for his own nature to be in us.
You represent God to your children.