Last night there was a battle of epic proportions in my house. It started out innocently enough: I asked #1 to take a bath with his little brother on returning home from the beach. This is my #1 who will happily skip showers on any given day. Well, it turns out cleanliness is more important to him than I knew before this moment, because he proceeded to give me a very in-depth explanation as to how he could not possibly get clean in a BATH, for goodness' sake, where the sand sits on the bottom, and where, quite possibly, his little brother (the five-year-old, not the baby, mind you,) might choose to pee. (I know, I know, more bodily functions...)
I told him I understood his reluctance, but the sand wasn't really "dirt," and I wanted him to just do it quick so I could get out of my own swimsuit and take a quick shower elsewhere; and besides, his brother promised he doesn't do that in the tub any more!
My just-entering-the-logic-stage-of-learning son proceeded to raise his voice to a higher pitch and louder volume and re-explain his reasoning, adding pleas of unfairness that I would subject him to this torture. (I am not getting my quick shower, am I?)
Once again I explained that I understood his reasoning, adding that in this case, while I normally don't force him to take baths, I just wanted him to submit to my authority as mom and get it over with. This is where the Grace of God definitely took over. For my handsome, intelligent, growing-wiser-with-passing-days oldest son turned into a cross between a toddler and a snarling pit bull, with a bit of howling coyote thrown in. He got into the bath but hollered the whole time, received discipline and continued to fit-pitch, was sent to his bed at the same time as his baby brother and still he carried on so that littlest could not fall asleep. (Yep, still in my wet swimsuit, which is starting to dry, but now I feel the grit in unhappy places.)
Finally with firm response to his fit, I sent him to my room to bed so that at least baby could sleep. God is so awesome, because normally the flesh in me added to my own first-born-ness gives me excuse to make it a battle of wills just because I want to win, and anger easily sets in. I honestly wasn't angry at my sweet boy, though, just amazed at his stamina and the critter he'd become, and sad that a sweet evening at the beach was going south so far. I left him in his misery for a bit (still no shower; now I'm getting itchy from salt water) and went to consult with Dad. I didn't want to leave the night this way, so I headed up into the dark... "Buddy, did you want to talk before you go to sleep?" (Sniffle...) "I'M SORRY I WAS SO STUBBORN...!!!" At which point I dove into bed and wrapped my precious first in my arms. The ensuing conversation was mind-blowing in its depth and revelation of the process we all go through.
We think we know what's best. We assert our "authority." We reason with those in charge, and when that doesn't work we go for all out rebellion. If we've been raised right or God's wisdom has taken our hearts and minds and shaped them, then this is often done without our even noticing - and at least without anyone else's. But when we "reason" with the police officer about how we can drive safely at that speed, or "explain" to the county that we didn't expect to encounter that electrical line while digging in our own back yard, the consequences are more severe than an 11-year-old considers. And if he doesn't consider them now, the circumstances he creates at 30 may be more "natural consequence" than he wants to experience.
My dear one and I had sweet moments of snuggling and remembering again God's grace. Just like He did with the Israelites, He loves us so much that when we choose defiance, He will come against it. Yes, like He has since time began, He may allow us to run for a while with our "logic..." but in the end, when we who are His choose to battle Him, He will oppose us. And He will win, because the prize for which He battles us is our own heart. And He promised us, He will never leave us nor forsake us. He said NOTHING can separate us from His love- NOTHING. Neither height, nor depth, nor any number of things... including our own will.
And when one of my precious ones chooses to "battle" for the sake of battle, I will lovingly and passionately oppose him. I will listen to reason, and I will give freedom to choose one's own path at every opportunity. (I will, Father - give me grace!!!) But when their very souls are at stake (even over the silly tub), I will wrestle them until their hearts know the sweet joy of surrender. Because this is how my Father loves me.