28 December 2011

Tilling hard soil

Some days, being a dad is hard. Really hard. When my kids are bickering (again), which inevitably leads to tears and blame casting (again), I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I know the importance of a father. I see it in the Bible. I see it in the news.  I see it in my kid's eyes. Still, in his sovereignty, God has entrusted me with the role of leading and teaching these little ones.

So when I get a phone call at work from my wife who seems ready to throw in the towel in the third round because the fight has been hard that day, I wonder what I am doing wrong. When my son looks me in the eyes and nods as I tell him to listen to his little sister's words and stop wrestling with her, yet he continues on, I sigh and realize that parenting--for me at least--is often really tough. 

Particularly during these challenging times as a father, I think of our garden.  Heather and Grace wanted a garden last year. I set to tilling the soil and it was tough going. Though enabled with the right tools for the job, I still fought desperately to break up the soil. I had to go over it again and again and again until it was finally ready.

It would be easier if my children's hearts were rich, black topsoil, ready for me to plant God's word. I would like it to take root easily and grow quickly. Their hearts aren't that way, though. They are sinners, just like I am. And according to Ezekiel 11:19, the hearts of sinners are "hearts of stone."

The work of parenting is hard. Breaking up the rocky soil of their hearts is an arduous, ongoing process, but I praise God that he allows me to be a part of it--both the good and the bad.  Because on the other side of the process, there is fruit. Grace lovingly serving her brother.  The name of Jesus on Tessa's lips. Ian saying that in the next year, he wants to learn more of God's word. Each of these little buds a sign of new growth.

And so I grab my spade and keep working the soil. 

I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.-Ezekiel 11:19-20

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