Monday, September 14, 2009

Grace and Last Night's Homework

Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another (Jas 5:16)

"Study" by holtenl05

Last time, I mentioned my need for prayer because of easily-provoked anger and a legalistic parenting style. And after what happened last night, I can't help believing that some of you prayed for me. Thank you.

Homework with one precious son started out horribly…autistic obsessiveness, screaming, tantruming, and all of the usual indications that no work would actually get done.

I was working up a good head of steam (no surprise), counting on the idea that the right consequences combined with the right level of anger would change things for the better. The wrath of man does produce the righteousness of God, doesn't it? (Ummm…see Jas 1:20)

Tell me I'm not the only one who does that!

Anyway, right in the middle of this awful mess, when it looked like we were destined to be at each other's throats, God intervened by His grace.

I can think of no other explanation. There's no way I could have stepped myself back from my anger, or seen so clearly what was needed, or even desired to do what was needed if I had seen it. It was definitely a God thing, a change of heart, a dawning of light.

"Son," I said, "I'm making a very foolish mistake, thinking I'm going to make this better by being angry. And you're making foolish mistakes, too. What do you think we need to do?"

I don't remember what he answered, but it wasn't quite what I had in mind, so I asked him, "Who is the only one who can help us?"

"God," he replied.

"I think we should pray," I agreed.

He nodded, looking a little repentant, and then bowed his head and squeezed his eyes shut tight.

I prayed aloud something like this, "Lord, please forgive me for my anger, and for trusting in my anger to make things right. And please forgive my son for his rebellion against doing his homework. Help us both to be wiser, and to remember to look to You for help, and to be humble and obedient."

After the "Amen," there was a complete 180 for both of us.

Folks, that's not the power of prayer. That's the power of GOD, accessed through prayer. Prayer is only as good as the one being prayed to. And our God is not only good; He is also gracious.

What's the difference between "good" and "gracious?" It's simply this: if God had chosen to say "no" to my request, He would still have been good. He cannot be other than good. His "no" would have had some glorious purpose behind it. He didn't have to say "Yes," but He did.

That's grace. Undeserved kindness.

We worked together for almost two hours, my son and I, with no more anger, no more tantruming, no more ugliness. And when it was over, we bowed our heads and thanked the Lord for helping us.

So now I want to thank all of you who prayed to our God through the Lord Jesus Christ. You had a hand in giving us this priceless moment in time. Who knows how deep an impression it may have made on a young heart?

I know it made quite an impression on mine.

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Karin said...

Wonderful, exciting news! Confessing our shortcomings, weaknesses, sins, helps us to realize that the problem is ours and not necessarily the other person's - though they may unwittingly contribute to it. With that confession humility enters in and we understand that we need the Lord's help and seek Him in prayer. Awesome how He works in all our lives. Thanks for sharing!

Laurie M. said...

This really is a wonderful story. I've had my own difficulties in dealing with a very difficult relationship that has been difficult for years. It was finally nothing but God's grace that broke through my own stubbornness in the situation to allow me to submit to godliness on my part regardless of if the other party changed. The change has been quite dramatic if only in my own ability to deal with it.

Blessings to you, Betsy and may God provide continued growth in grace to you and your children.

Sherri Ward said...

What a wonderful example of God working in our lives, in the everyday problems that too often get the best of us - if we don't turn to Him! I'm just catching up on some reading, and as usual, Betsy, this is uplifting and encouraging!

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