Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.
My two-year could barely reach the pedals of her shiny, new tricycle. Tiptoed, she pushed with the soft bottoms of her feet, first forwards, then backwards. I cupped the top of her small foot under my hand, guiding it in a circle, teaching, training her in the way she should move the pedals. I let go, allowing her to try it herself. Again, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, not gaining any ground. She would begin to move her foot in a circle the way I had shown her, but at the first feel of resistance, she quickly changed directions and pushed backwards. Then at the point she met resistance again, she would push forward again. Click. Clack. Backwards. Forwards. Backwards. Forwards.
All three of my children began their tricycle training this way. Not one climbed on and naturally pushed the pedals in a continuous motion. Each one seemed confused by the unfamiliar resistance in the beginning. But as I continued to guide their feet through the resistance, they learned to push through it. Over time, their small feet grew accustomed to the motion required to move the tricycle forward. It became second nature, a motion that was produced naturally with little thought involved. Since learning, none of my children have forgotten how to pedal a tricycle or bike. It is now a part of them, a simple skill they will most likely carry with them the rest of their lives.
My Father has been teaching me to ride my own shiny, new tricycle, the tricycle of keeping my thoughts in line with his. My feet can barely reach the pedals, and often my feet feel too weak to push through the unfamiliar resistance. My Father cups the top of my small foot under his hand and gently, lovingly pushes, showing me the correct way, guiding me in the fluid motion necessary to move forward.
I feel the resistance, the battle we all face in the Christian walk, and like my own children, the resistance startles me. It feels too hard, too daunting, too unfamiliar. I am tempted to switch directions, and often it feels as if I am not gaining any ground. Click. Clack. Backwards. Forwards. Backwards. Forwards.
“You have three wheels carrying you,” he says, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” but you must allow me to teach you to move your feet in a fluid motion. You must pedal, choosing my ways over your ways. Over and over and over. You must choose to focus on what I have given to you rather than what I have not. You must choose to say 'Thank you, Lord for my daily bread,' instead of seeing your food as one more meal to prepare. You must choose to thank Me that your children are able to speak your name rather than resenting that “Mom” has been said fifty times in the last minute. You must choose to thank Me that your children have clothes rather than nagging them for forgetting to put them in the hamper one more time. You must choose to thank Me for the lessons your children are learning rather than losing heart when they fail, when they cannot seem to push past the resistance of their flesh.
All day long, “taking thoughts captive” one by one. I have a love hate relationship with the taking thoughts captive verse. I used to think I hated it because it was sort of a Christianese phrase, quoted at every bible study, and quite frankly, I grew tired of hearing it. But really I think it bothers me because it exposes how far my heart and mind are from doing that very thing, "taking thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ." Do we not seem to treat with contempt what we feel like we cannot do?
The truth is, though, I cannot do it, not on my own. I need the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit carrying me, rolling me forward in truth. I need the hand of my loving Father cupped over my foot gently pushing, gently reminding, gently replacing lies and discontent with truth. Push me through the resistance, Father.
The Lord is training me in the way that I should go, while I am training my children in the way they should go. He is molding my rebellious heart as I mold my children’s rebellious hearts. My training is part of theirs, in fact, essential to theirs. The lessons I am learning are the lessons I will be teaching, and it is imperative that my heart be teachable if I am to train them in a godly way.
My children need my hand gently guiding their feet in the way they should go. What they do not need is their mother standing over them, wondering why in the world they cannot seem to get it, losing heart when the resistance pushes them backwards yet once again.. They need love, a gentle hand pushing and guiding, filling them with the truths that My Father is using to mold my own heart.
And they need to know that I am at their side, that like Jesus, I am for them, not against them, that I am pushing along side them, encouraging and nurturing them. They need me to humbly crouch down, cup my hand over their foot, and guide it in a continual fluid motion, teaching them the ways of the Lord, over and over and over. And when they finally begin to roll forward when they learn to push through the resistance, they need me to gently place my hand on their back, nudging, encouraging, and steering them in the ways of the Lord.
Father, my parenting often looks far different than this picture of tricycle training. Teach me to be like you, Jesus. Train me to think like you and see like you and live like you. I feel your love. I feel your patience. Let my children feel it too. Train up this child in the way that I should go so that I may train my children in the way they should go.
Thank you, Father, for this shiny new tricycle. Thank you for teaching me. And thank you for the joy and freedom that lies on the other side of the training.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
In Jesus' Name. Amen