My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you! I would like to be with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed because of you. (Galatians 4:19-20)
It’s such a hard thing to watch our children grow up, isn’t it? Especially when you see them walking down a dangerous path in their lives. You want to just pick them up and almost live their lives for them, so that they won’t be hurt by what you know is ultimately harmful to them, but that they currently find attractive. The corrections that you give are, indeed, loving, in that they attempt to help your kids back onto a better path. However, sometimes the freedom that you give your children is more helpful. Within limits, it teaches your children not to just “obey Mom’s/Dad’s law,” but to evaluate situations for themselves so as to learn how to live a good life on their own. The rub for parents is that you have to sit back and allow your child to make mistakes and to fall.
We always try to prepare them for the world. To teach them not to talk to strangers. To look both ways before crossing the street. To eat their veggies. To look out for your little brother/sister. To brush your teeth. To say your prayers at night. When they are small, usually they more or less obey, but when they turn into teens and try to determine for themselves their identity…then is when you have the greatest opportunity for rebellion.
What Paul is stating here is the lament of every parent of a teen who has ever said, “I taught you better than that!” or “That’s not who I raised you to be!” or “That’s just not like you!” The formerly sweet, docile child has become somehow something like a child of wrath. A stranger you don’t recognize. The bonds between you which were formerly strong are now a little weaker, a little fainter — distance has set in as friends and culture at large has replaced you as the, apparent, new standard for behavior. What happened?
I think it’s a normal part of the maturation process. At some point, the newly instructed needs to learn to fly on their own. Our rules and teachings have to be incorporated into their hearts, and this can only be done by a free choice of their will.
It is at this point that God’s people are being offered this opportunity to see beyond the Law and fill their hearts with the New Covenant. They are ready for the next step in the maturation process.
In the same way we also, when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. (Galatians 4:3-5)
The photo is me as a toddler. As the story goes, I was being a pill when my parents took me to the park this day, so they stuck me in a waste basket and started walking away…. 🙂