Brioni, 3yo, February 2010
Becoming a parent — observing the growth of my children and seeking to parent wisely — has taught me a lot about the character of God.

Those who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit have the right to call God “Abba”. And the way that Father deals with us as his children is echoed by the ways I seek to disciple my own children.

Take, for instance, the seeming contradiction of free will and the sovereignty of God. Without taking the analogy to an extreme level, let me point out some similarities with the way I parent our children.

Because I know the girls intimately, I know their preferences, their personalities and their likely reactions. So I can arrange circumstances so the girls will react in a certain way, thus offering them both a choice while also imposing my will upon them.

When serving up lunch, I usually make up specific plates for the three girls. For instance, Aisha prefers carrot, Brioni loves cucumber and Calista eats less than the other two. So I can decorate one plate with a heavy serving of carrots and another with a generous portion of cucumbers, and then I can leave them on the counter for the girls to choose.

Although I have already decided which plates the girls will eat from, I can present the dishes as a choice. I know that Aisha will choose the one with more carrots, and Brioni the one with more cucumber. However, I still give them the choice — knowing what they will do.

Another related example presented itself this week with the flavour of Aisha’s birthday cake. Because I know Aisha, I know she would like a chocolate cake before she even asks for one. So I prepare the ingredients and have it on hand for the day we are to make the cake.

However, as a loving parent wanting to offer Aisha a choice, I ask her to choose what kind of cake she would like. She chose chocolate!

I guess she could have chosen something different, but the reality is that she didn’t. However, I gave her the choice, she spoke of her own free will, but I was orchestrating things behind the scenes because of my vastly greater knowledge/life experience. Just because I knew the answer to the question before I asked it does not invalidate Aisha’s choice.

Isn’t it the same with us and Father? He is orchestrating thing, arranging events and people, and yet giving us choices.

I recently bought a two-pack of pens. They’re the cool, click-down pens that hold four different ink colours. I presented the packet to Aisha and gave her a choice. I said, “These pens are for you. However, you can choose to give one of these to Brioni.”

I could have easily imposed my will upon her, but I let her decide and I did not counsel her or interfere. In this instance, I didn’t know what she would do.

Would she be selfish and keep both for herself? Or had her character developed to a point where her natural selfishness was overshadowed by her love for her sister? I presented Aisha with the choice and stood back to watch the outcome.

Given the choice, Aisha did decide to share with her sister. And I was blessed by seeing her actions demonstrating a maturity beyond her years, while Aisha has been able to have fun colouring and drawing with her best friend and sister!

How much greater is Father’s knowledge of us? How vast is his capacity for knowing us and loving us. His wisdom stretches infinitely further than mine as a parent.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” (Isaiah 46:10-11)

For a further discussion on this topic, you can enter the dialogue with us by commenting after watching David’s video.