Walk the Walk of Salvation
I’m not a culture warrior. I’m sure there’s a place for them, but it’s not my gig. I’m a freedom fighter.
The storyline has been recycled ever since the first wild animal was supposedly tamed:
- A Vegas act comes to an abrupt halt when a tiger suddenly mauls the guy who trained him since birth.
- The snake charmer keels over after being bitten by his pet Cobra.
- The family lap dog attacks the toddler.
Animals that have been carefully coached to a level of performance suddenly go off the human script written for them and default to the worst side of their nature. Fido’s not the only one guilty of this though.
There’s something about the raw, unbridled side of our kid’s nature as well. We’d like to think that the right conditions, best life lessons, and proper information would be all they need to rise beyond their worst capacities. So we cliché them to death.
They get discouraged.
We say, “Buck up.”
They get frustrated.
We say, “Get over it.”
They get angry.
We say, “Lose it.”
They get selfish.
We say, “Grow up.”
And for a while they buck it up, get over it, lose it, and act their age. Then the right (or should I say “wrong”) conditions show themselves and they’re right back to making life miserable for all involved.
Maybe if we had a better read of our true nature, we wouldn’t be so quick to turn to our cosmetic responses. Nor would we be so surprised when our children’s worst side shows its true colors. The key is starting with ourselves.
Here’s how the Apostle Paul framed this whole dilemma:
I realize I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to be bad; but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (Romans 7:18-20 TM).
As parents, we can say all we want about how much we’ve learned to manage our life. We can testify at church, present our airbrushed track records on Facebook, and even receive the applause of our peers, but put the right circumstances in our windshield and the real us shows up. We lose our temper, we lie, we demand, we lust, we edit reality.
Because of this, we shouldn’t be surprised when all of our training seems to drain out of our kid’s ears as their knuckle-headed behavior explores new frontiers. Evangelical behavioral modification can only carry a kid so far before KABAAM!!
The only surefire solution to their problem is the same one that works with us. Our old nature has to be replaced by a new one. This isn’t done through mottos, pep talks, and checklists. This only happens when we let God nail our old nature to the cross and accept the new life he offers through his resurrection. It’s the gospel, not good behavior that outshouts the call of the wild. It’s salvation, not sin management that tames the shrew in us. These start in motion a journey of becoming more like the person who bought us with his life.
I know I sound like a stuttering download to many of you who follow my musings but it is the GRACE of God, through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, that is the only way to mitigate the power and pull of our old nature. The best way to insure that His grace will ultimately do a grand work in our children’s hearts is to let him have the high ground in our own.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (Romans 7:24-25 TM)