This blog was originally posted at www.Renovare.org Our child friendly definition of guidance is this: listening to the counsel of God and others who love us.
Each night before I go to bed, I go outside and make a last check of all the animals. Here in the country there are no outside lights. Robert Frost is right, “the woods are lovely dark and deep,” but I would like to add that without a light, they are dangerous. Sometimes my fears are real, like that coyote that I hear howl as I make my rounds, and sometimes they are imagined—the branches that look like monsters ready to pounce. However if I grab a flashlight as I head out the door all things change. I know where I am at all times, wild animals generally run from light, and those imaginary monsters simply don’t exist. Guidance is a light. Often through the scriptures God lights our paths, through the advice of others he keeps us safe. This is the receiving end of guidance.
The “dishing it out” side is another story. As a parent and a teacher let me just lay all my cards on the table and say guidance is tough stuff. It requires so much energy! It is messy. And sometimes it’s heartbreaking.
As a teacher I can bark orders and give guidance from a distance. I can keep myself separate by only caring about what goes on at school, issuing assignments and grades like a well oiled machine. But no one actually learns anything of value and the distance is unmistakable.
As a parent I can also bark orders and give guidance from a distance. I can be unmovable, issuing the wages of good and bad behavior, all the while muttering under my breath, “Do as I say, not as I do.” But children won’t “Do as I say, not as I do”; they will do as I do. Children will try an array of creative techniques to fill in the relational space they feel.
Guidance through incarnation looks completely different. Jesus gives us the perfect picture. Jesus says, “Do as I do,” and then he takes it even further, “Do as I do… and here, let me help you.” And with that he stepped forever into humanity with hands on guidance. He gave us proximity.
Incarnation is God stepping into humanity, and a result is presence—proximity. “The Kingdom of God is here,” is a declaration of proximity. Jesus declares proximity without pretension. We are still free to shun his guidance, but he won’t leave, he won’t abandon. Our sensibilities may be dulled to this gift of proximity, but he is always there.
As parents we can participate in incarnation through our presence. Like Jesus we offer our presence, even when our guidance is rejected. We cannot do it without the strength of the Spirit. We need this incarnation as well as offer it.
Today, how is God calling you to guide your children through incarnation?