“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.” – 1 Samuel 12:20-25 (NIV)
The people of Israel had asked for a king and God had given them what they wanted, but Saul was not what they needed. While God was willing to let them suffer the consequences of their disobedience and lack of faith, He also extended mercy. Even though they had forgotten all of what God had done for them and their ancestors, put their trust in false gods and chosen a king over their heavenly Father, God still showed mercy. This is a common thread in God’s relationship with His children.
Our children will beg for things that aren’t good for them and occasionally we will relent and let them suffer for their choices. We will watch them struggle through the pain and humiliation of failure and defeat. We will hear their complaints and appeals for help and we will extend mercy. As parents, we extend the mercy that has been extended to us. Here is a discipline I am working on to put this mercy into practice: each day waking up with a clean slate in regard to my children’s bad choices.
This isn’t some touchy-feely memory wipe, but a conscious choice to treat every day as a fresh opportunity for my children to succeed in righteousness. It is too easy to see our children with the hindsight of judgment instead of the foresight of vision and hope. Our privilege and responsibility as parents is to see a future for our children through the lens of mercy. This helps us to see all of their potential and promise even on their worst day.
Lord, help me to show the same mercy to my children that you have shown me. Give me eyes to see all the promise they hold and the wisdom to guide them into it. Help me grow a discipline of starting each day with a clean slate. Amen.