When it comes to children, I’m learning a valuable lesson: don’t say it if you don’t mean it.
If you even partially agree to it with just a passing “maybe,” they’re going to take it as a promise. And if it’s something they really want, you better believe they’re going to hold you to it!
I used to try to be slick when I didn’t really want to do what my kids were asking. I’d mumble a half-hearted “yeah,” not wanting to fully commit. But I would secretly be counting on them moving on to something else and forgetting all about what they asked for. Then I’d be off the hook for my “promise.” I had modest success with that strategy when they were little, but it’s become less and less effective as time has gone on.
I don’t know why I still try, but I do.
As I write this, I’m in a bit of pain. My back is slightly tweaked because I was in the yard playing soccer with my son earlier today. Why? Well, because I told him I would…like, a MONTH ago! See, he had asked me to play with him back then, but I was able to put him off at the time. I talked him into going for a bike ride instead that particular day. That’s a much more middle-aged-dad-friendly activity. Nice and smooth. Low-impact. Easy on the ol’ back.
But as part of the deal I had to make, I “promised” that we’d do what he wanted to do next time. The weather quickly started getting cooler, and we couldn’t really go outside much after that. I just knew he had forgotten all about it; I sure had. I thought I was off the hook. But we live in Michigan, so, of course, it jumped like 30 degrees overnight and felt like late spring…in November.
And guess who remembered what Daddy said.
They can’t remember to make their beds or brush their teeth. They can’t remember to do their chores before they start playing. They can’t remember that dirty socks don’t belong on the floor and dirty plates don’t belong on the table.
But they can remember that you said you’d play soccer over a month ago. Or that you off-handedly (and foolishly) said they could pick “whatever they want” from the store if their grades improved. Or that you said you’d take them to the movie on your first day off…even when you haven’t had one in weeks and all you want to do is stay home and rest.
As annoying as it is when our kids remind us of our promises, we can actually learn a lot from them about how to relate to our heavenly Father. I think a big part of that child-like spirit Jesus said we needed to enter the kingdom has a lot to do with this. It’s about absolute trust. It’s about believing so completely in Abba’s ability and willingness to bless you that it doesn’t even cross your mind that He won’t. It’s about the pure and innocent faith of knowing that Daddy will, simply because He said He would!
There’s no doubt at all. There’s absolutely zero worry that He won’t come through. You know your Father’s character, so you know that He MUST keep His word. He just has to because He is who He is. And He doesn’t even have to be coerced or convinced to do it, unlike some of us. (Okay, it’s me. I’m “some of us.”)
Part of the reason I (reluctantly) went outside running around like I’m still twenty-something is because, at the end of the day, I want my son to keep trusting me. I want to be that guy for him and his sister. That guy who keeps his word even when he doesn’t want to. That guy they know they can count on no matter what.
Even though it cost me, I’m actually glad my son held me to my word. It gave me a chance to come through for him. It gave me a chance to show him an example of faithfulness and reliability.
One of the amazing blessings of spiritual sonship is moving joyfully in the faithfulness of your heavenly Father!
Start holding your Abba to His word. Even if you haven’t been the best kid. Even if you haven’t cleaned your room or cleared the table like you were supposed to. Daddy is just that good! If He said it, it’s already as good as done.
Now don’t think I’m suggesting that you try to take advantage of grace. We don’t get to live however we want to and still expect the blessings of relationship with a holy God. What I am saying is this: even if you haven’t been a perfect child, God will always be a perfect Father. He’ll always do what He said He’d do even when you and I don’t always do what we said we’d do.
So get this in your spirit:
Your Father said He would never leave or forsake you…
Your Father said He would make everything work together for your good if you love and trust Him…
Your Father said that He wouldn’t let you be tempted beyond what you’re able to bear…
Your Father said He’d give wisdom in abundance if you ask Him for it…
He’s made all these promises and so many more. CLAIM THEM! Do it proudly, do it boldly, and do it unwaveringly. Hold your Daddy to His word.
And one more thing—since He’s an infinitely better parent than any of us will ever be, our Father never gets annoyed when His children bring up His promises. In fact, I think He rather enjoys it. It shows we’ve been listening when He’s been speaking. It shows we believe that He can actually do what He said He’d do. And that’s the one thing He values more than anything else—our faith in Him.
So start praying His promises right back to Him. Not arrogantly demanding that He do what you want, but humbly and faithfully letting Him know that you know what He said. And that you trust Him to do it.
Simply because He said He would.
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Be blessed and be a blessing!
Kwameh A Barnett
Excellent article Bro. Dawson. It is an awesome, but daunting responsibility we have as earthly fathers. We will be judged by the words we speak to our children. Promises made should be promises kept. May God continue to use your faithfulness and sincerity to teach us.
Rigel J Dawson
I appreciate you, my brother!
Wow! I really needed to read this today. And for the record, your children KNOW you keep your promises. What a blessing to hear everything you need to hear, right when you need it. I thank God for you :0)
Amen! When we see God as Abba and approach Him with the endearing term and see Him as our Heavenly Daddy, it puts so much into perspective and is so relatable. Your examples are so spot on!! My kids are now teenagers and practically grown but they still hold my husband accountable for what he says he will do. Our earthly dads are like SuperMan they can do anything and our Heavenly Daddy is that much more super never failing and always on time!
Thank Bro. Dawson!!
Thanks to the Father for His continued love and grace for me. I enjoyed reading your article, and agree with you. There is one thing that I would like to know. When does it stop. I am finding that the children don’t always grow up. I was especially moved the statement “we can remind our Father of His promises to us.
Thank you. This is a very touching, beautiful and amazing reminder of how good our heavenly father is to us. Thank you for being a vessel for the Lord to work through. Blessings to you and yours.
Rigel J Dawson
Thanks for reading! So glad it was a blessing. God bless you!
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