My son was invited to play airsoft guns with a friend’s husband. He was super excited and talked about it non-stop. Yet the morning of, he was really unkind to his sisters, wasn’t listening, or following through on things I had asked of him. It was a continued battle all morning. Finally, I told him he could not go. The moment I shut it down I heard God say, “Removing his heart’s desire is not the key to his heart.” I instantly took back my words and have pondered this a great deal since. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, not withholding, punishing, or communicating we have to be ‘good enough’ to have our desires met. The key to the testimony was discovering what was really going on and not just seeing his bad behavior. While my son’s choices that morning could have been from some form of rebellion in his heart, I believe it stemmed from his profound excitement to bond with an adult male over the activity that he loves the most. He lives with 3 girls and a mom 24/7 and has a natural longing/desire in his heart for male connection. He talked about it non-stop all week long. The morning of he was growing impatient for the big moment to arrive. He was like a child the night before Christmas. He is still a child and lacked the maturity to steward his impatience well. I am all for discipline, correction, and training, and yet there are times we care so much about righting their wrong and fail to see the bigger picture of their heart. The Kingdom of God does not ‘punish’ for age-appropriate immaturity. When I first said he couldn’t go his entire body sunk and it pierced his heart. If my goal was ‘punishment’ I did it. But the moment I said, “God just told me that I was wrong to take away your deep desire to go,” he broke down in tears. We talked about his excitement and impatience and how he behaved that morning. He was fully repentant and said he was sorry to his sisters and me.
Here is the glorious part – then I got to connect the dots for him that Father God sees his heart and wants to fulfill those desires. Do I REALLY want to shut my son down for not being able to control his utter excitement over getting this deepest desire fulfilled? That is where partnering with my son’s Creator is so key – we don’t always know what is going on in their hearts, but He does. There is a time to discipline, a time to say ‘no’ and there is a time to look deeper at the bigger picture!