Sunday, August 31, 2014

Peace In My Lifetime - Pick Your Battles?

"'The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,' Hezekiah replied.  For he thought, 'Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?'"  (II Kings 20:19)

In the long list of the kings of Judah, Hezekiah stands out as one of the few who did not do "evil in the sight of the Lord."  In fact, the story of his righteous life is quite refreshing.  I particularly like the incident of God healing him from terminal illness in response to Hezekiah’s earnest prayer.

But I have to admit, one aspect of Hezekiah’s life perplexes and disappoints me.  When King Hezekiah pridefully displayed the wealth of Judah to the envoys from Babylon, Isaiah prophesied God’s judgment on this action. "Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon.  Nothing will be left, says the Lord.  And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." (II Kings 20:16-18)

What was Hezekiah’s response to this prophecy?
What would your response be?  

If God told you your possessions and wealth would be taken by force and your children kidnapped — but not in your lifetime — what would you do?

If I had been Hezekiah, I think I would have remembered God’s mercy in performing my miraculous healing. I think I would have remembered how I humbled myself and God answered my prayer. And I think I would have once more humbled myself and asked for His mercy, this time for my children and grandchildren. Is this what Hezekiah did?

You know the story. Hezekiah replied, "The word of the Lord you have spoken is good"....For he thought, "Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?"  He cared more for a peaceful life than he did for his children and grandchildren’s future!

Okay, you say.  How does this apply to homeschoolers?  After all, if we cared more about "peace" than our children’s future, we wouldn’t be homeschooling!

That’s absolutely true.  And yet, I wonder if we don’t sometimes make Hezekiah’s mistake in a more subtle way.  Have you ever heard, or made, these remarks?

  • "I don’t really like Jimmy’s outfit either, but you have to pick your battles.  I let him do what he wants with his clothes as long as he doesn’t fight me about school work."  
  • "Sandy won’t clean her room, so I said, 'Fine! Live in a pig sty then!  Just keep your bedroom door closed!'"  
  • "My daughter just wouldn’t practice piano so I figured we might as well quit lessons."  
  • "If you two kids are going to fight all day, then go outside where I don’t have to hear it!"

Sound familiar?

Peace Now, Consequences Later
We are all busy and it is often so much easier to opt for peace now, and the heck with the consequences in our children’s future lives.  If we can just get through the day, make it to co-op on time, and have a passing score on the tests, we count it a minor victory.  But God has called us to do more than simply chauffeur, grade tests, and fix dinner.  We are to be actively, all the time, training our children in godly character. Sometimes we forfeit temporary "peace" during that process. Sometimes it seems like we’re always having to discipline. Sometimes we’d just rather doggone well do something besides train the kids.  

But that’s when we need to pray for God’s grace to carry on and His wisdom to do the job right.  He does not require us to do things that He will not help us do.  When we wholeheartedly follow His Word in training and praying for our children, He brings about a true peace in our families — the peace of godly people living together for His glory.

If we are ever tempted to slack off and let Johnny do his own thing for a while, or let Susie have her tantrum, then it would behoove us to look at the fruit of Hezekiah’s story.  II Kings 21:2 tells us about Hezekiah’s son. "He did evil in the eyes of the Lord."  For 17 verses we read of the evil things Manasseh did.

Of course, a dirty room, sloppy outfits, and unpracticed piano lessons do not compare with the evil King Manasseh came up with.  But a parent who lets "small" character issues slide will face "large" character issues when the child grows up.

Manasseh had one of the godliest kings in Judah for a father — but Manasseh knew that his father cared more about having immediate peace than he cared about how the next generation turned out. And Manasseh rejected everything his father stood for.

Written by Heather Sheen

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