Over the past many years of parenting my three (now grown) kids, I have received my fair share of parenting advice. Often it came at times I LEAST wanted it or appreciated it. Say, at the grocery store. When my twin infant sons were screaming. And their toddler sister just got her hand stuck in the bottom of our grocery cart (don’t ask) and was also screaming (but in pain, not anger). And all I wanted to do (besides run far, far away) was go home and cry and eat a whole container of ice cream. It was usually an older, sweet-faced grandmotherly woman who kindly asked questions meant to actually suggest the answers to all my oh-so-apparent troubles. “Oh, is somebody hungry? My goodness, is it time for lunch? Oh dear, did someone hurt herself? Did mommy kiss it and make it better?” When I look back at these times, I truly think it amazing I did not collapse in a sobbing heap in the frozen food section of Raley’s.

There was one tidbit of parental wisdom, however, that I have embraced and still utilize today. It is the belief that our child(ren) grow to be Godly adults when taught from a young age to “listen and obey” their parents.

This month your children will be learning about Commitment – making a plan and putting it into practice. And today we talked about the parable of the wise man and the foolish man. You know, the wise man built his house on the rock and the foolish man built his house on sand. Rains come down. Floods come up. House on sand – flat. House on rock – stands firm. Of course, Jesus was not giving His audience architectural advice, sound as it may have been. He was explaining that wisdom involved listening to God and then doing what He says to do.

And today your kids were told commitment begins with hearing and doing what God says.

So I got to thinking.

This whole listening and obeying thing is not just a kid-issue. It’s a humanity issue. One that has two parts.

Listening. So, why don’t our kids listen to us? There are many excuses but one main issue. Focus. Whether it is because they are engrossed in a book, a television show, a video game, a room-engulfing toy extravaganza or the best day-dream EVER, when our kids are not listening to us, they are not focusing on us. They are truly, at their deepest core, focusing on themselves. What THEY want to do, or see, or think about, or listen to. And I have learned that, often, the first step to getting a child to HEAR me is to have that child LOOK at me. “Look at my eyes.” Focus on me. As the distractions diminish, my voice somehow amazingly becomes clearer.

And are we just like our kids? Oh, we are probably better at navigating the multitude of interactions we encounter daily (not great, just better), but how well do we listen to God? I mean, are we spending time in prayer? In His Word? With other believers? Or is our focus directed elsewhere? Like on ourselves. Our worries, our plans, our goals, our happiness. And is our Heavenly Father talking to us and saying, “Look at Me. Focus on Me.”

Doing. What is so hard about this anyway? Seriously. Just rinse the dishes. Clean your room. Feed the cat. Did you feed the cat? I told you to feed the cat. So you HEARD me tell you to feed the cat? But you didn’t actually feed the cat? So, when exactly were you GOING to feed the cat? Because you do understand the cat can’t really eat until you really feed him, right?

But we grown-ups don’t struggle with this issue of doing, right? I mean, okay, maybe we struggle with listening to God at times, but when we have heard what He tells us to do WE actually do it, don’t we? Cause we all know how hard it is to be a parent and tell your kids what they need to do and then watch them not do it. So we would never do that.

Except when we do.

And guess what?

This is a focus issue as well. We don’t want to do what God wants us to do because what WE want to do seems better. Feels better. More fun. More satisfying. Easier. We look at ourselves and what we want and we do it. We disobey. Plain and simple. Only it isn’t. We see it with our kids all the time. Disobedience is ugly and painful and messy and never simple. It hurts them and those around them and, just like ripples on a glassy lake after a stone is tossed in the water, the effects go on and on.

And it does the same to us. And those we love.

I love that this month’s focus on Commitment begins with hearing and doing. Listening and obeying.

Because if we are truly committed to Christ, then what comes next is simple. And vital.

Listen. And obey.

How do we start?

By looking Him in the eyes.

In Christ,
Melinda Lamera