It was not the best day to go to the pumpkin patch. The clouds hung like furrowed brows over the sullen fields. Everything was brown, except the things that were gray, and anything that wasn’t gray was about to be because it looked like rain.
But it wasn’t raining yet, and you can’t very well stay home on a chance of rain when you live in the Pacific Northwest or you’d never go anywhere. Besides, I wanted to fill our Saturdays with memorable activities to help pass the months while my husband was away on Army duty.
Despite the chill in the air, the kids and I donned our fleece jackets and boots and headed off. All of us were happy to muck about in the fields and look for the craziest pumpkin. All but one child. One child did not want to go to the pumpkin patch, or watch cannons shoot pumpkins into the woods, or go on a hay ride. One child chose to be sullen and mean like the clouds over the field. One child rained all over our fun family outing.
I was not prepared for that kind of weather. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t trying so hard to make sure my children were happy and well-loved during their father’s absence. This child was fighting against all the good I had planned for them, and it hurt.
That night, after I put the kids to bed and the house was finally still, I shut myself in to the bathroom and succumbed to the heaviness of my heart. I felt sad and wounded. The evidence of ugliness lingered, like a bruise on my skin.
I turned the water as hot as it would go and stepped into the shower. It’s easier to think in the shower, and to cry. Words tumbled out into the water, words of sorrow over these sins lurking in such a young heart. It seemed silly at first, like it shouldn’t have mattered as much as it did. Kids do stuff like that. I was probably being too sensitive.
But that childish choice had brought a division into our home. It had taken the beauty of the day and marred the fellowship we shared. It stood between my own child and me and threatened the closeness we enjoyed. It wasn’t just immaturity. It was sin, and I hated that it was here, in my home, in my child. In me.
It was the same old struggle in new flesh. How I wish I could have spared him from this awful inheritance!
So there, in my little earthly temple, I pleaded to God for forgiveness for the one whose heart had been so hard that day. “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy…”
The bitterness of the day vanished. I found myself called to the place of Christ, not as a servant, but as a faithful high priest, earnestly interceding to God on behalf of my children. It was as if I was standing in the gap between my children and God, clothed in Christ, asking for forgiveness for their weaknesses. In the pattern of Christ, who prays for me, I prayed for my children as one who understands them and loves them. I know them because they are mine.
It is an awesome thing to be a kingdom of priests, and nowhere is the reality of that calling more pronounced than when I come before the throne of God on behalf of my covenant child. How I understand their weaknesses! How I desire for their good, for their reconciliation to their Father! When I grieve for the sins of my children, who often are unable yet to grieve for them themselves, it moves the heart of God.
It moves mine as well. It is difficult to enjoy a child who hurts, offends, and disobeys. It is hard to want to be around a child who selfishly ruins a perfectly good day by his actions or attitudes. Even a very small person can inflict a great deal of pain.
But when I take on a ministry of reconciliation and stand in as a priest for my children, I am reminded that their offenses—as hurtful or annoying as they may be to me— are ultimately sins against God. They are not just childish rebellions to be dismissed. They are real sins with eternal consequences. When my toddler refuses to obey, it is sin. When my daughter treats her siblings harshly, it is sin. When my son lies, it is sin.
What an awful reality. Speaking the truth of it back to God and asking for forgiveness acknowledges the fact that my children are sinners in need of repentance. Hearing the words spoken brings my awareness into the situation. I cannot ignore their weaknesses when I am confessing them aloud.
It is a truth that turns my heart for my children back to God and renews my purpose to teach and train them in the way they should go because I know the consequences of sin. I am weak! I am prone to wander just as they are. I see their weakness and I have compassion on them. I understand.
But I also know the solution to the problem. That is the beauty of the priestly role. It allows me the opportunity to point my children to Christ, the true High Priest, the true Sacrifice. Struggling with my children’s sin is one of the hardest parts of parenting. But leading them to the Source of all forgiveness is truly the greatest joy.
Thank you for reading! Please join us tomorrow for Day 6: Discipline.
For further thought
1) Have you thought about yourself as a priest as we are called in 1 Peter 1:9? Why or why not?
2) How is your role as a priest different than Christ’s role as a priest? How is it similar? See Hebrews 4:14-5:10.
3) Can you have a ministry of reconciliation in your home if you are harboring bitterness or taking offense at the sins of your children? How can t help to recognize that their sins are ultimately sins against God?