Oh, to grace, how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be.
I could force my children into moral behavior. Well, I could have to an extent, when they were younger . . . my oldest being eighteen now, everything is a little more complicated . . . but that's kind of extraneous to the point I want to make here, so we'll gloss over that for now and return to . . .
I could force my children into moral behavior. In fact, that's what parents do on some level when our children are young. Through various disciplinary techniques, we require our children to behave morally with the hopes that these behaviors, which are not natural to them, will become reinforced and habitual, and with the hopes that they will see the benefits of moral behavior and strive to continue in that vein.
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
So much energy gets spent toward the goal of making our children good that it's sometimes easy to lose sight of the fact that this isn't our primary goal in parenting. At least it shouldn't be. At least it's not mine.
It's also not my primary goal that my children be happy. Not that I don't want them to be happy, but we all know that the happiness they desire from us today is temporary and destines them for misery later. The happiness we desire for them requires gruntwork today that is no fun.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.
If I limit myself to the temporal goals I have for my children in this life (which I will for the purposes of this metaphor), one of my primary goals is for my children to have a relationship with me. A real relationship. Genuine, authentic relationship. Relationship appropriate to who we each are to each other -- not buddies, not business associates, but a mother and child. If I raise "happy," "good" children who don't have an authentic relationship with me, I have not really succeeded in my goal as a mother.
And it strikes me lately that I need to remember this about my heavenly Father as well. It is often easy to lose sight of the fact that His ultimate goal for me while I'm on this earth is not to make me a good, moral person (although He'd like that). Neither is it to make me happy in this life (although He wants that, too). Both of those goals pale in comparison to the ultimate, crucial need to establish a genuine, authentic relationship with me -- a relationship based in the reality of who we each are: father/child, master/servant, king/subject, creator/masterpiece, bridegroom/beloved bride. Goodness and happiness will all be taken care of some day; the relationship part has to be taken care of NOW.
I'm finding that when the ways of God don't make sense to me, it's usually because I've forgotten His ultimate goal. Not my morality or my levity, but my heart.
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.