“Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes–the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings and leaders, upon our priests and prophets, upon our fathers and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today. In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong. Our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them. Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you or turn from their evil ways.” – Nehemiah 9:32-35 (NIV)
The better part of chapter nine in Nehemiah is a recollection of Israel’s spotty history with God. Their penchant for sinfulness, even in the face of God’s blessing, borders on embarrassing. At least it would be if Scripture was only a window to past events instead of a mirror of our present circumstances. I cannot say that I have been any less foolish than they. I look at their story and I see myself and understand their appeal to God’s mercy and love.
It is easy to forget our pattern of foolishness when we are disciplining our children. Our memory can become fairly selective when we are dealing with disobedience and disrespect from our offspring. But when we hide our imperfect past, we miss the opportunity to share the moments when God’s perfection stepped in and saved us. If we paint the picture for our children that we never had problems and never disobeyed and never fell short we will regret it in the end.
God is perfect and we are not and we should never get those things mixed up. It is good to remember how much God has done in spite of us. It is good to remember that His mercy and love alone are responsible for the goodness in our lives. It is good for us to allow God to redeem the low moments of our lives to speak to our children. If God can teach me about my sin through the lives of His children, shouldn’t I let God teach my children through my life? Even if it hurts?
The truth can hurt, but it also heals. The truth helps us teach our children that sin is always the way to pain and God is always the way to healing. The truth teaches us that obedience is not a weight around our necks; it is the life rope that pulls us from the wreckage of a sinful life. Truth hurts like resetting a bone, but it allows us to heal correctly. This is why confession is good for the soul.
Lord, help me to be a truth teller. Help me be transparent with my children about the work You have done in my life to save me from sin. May the truth about my life, good or bad, be used by You to help my children walk in Your ways. Amen.