Maybe you have managed to buck the trend & raise perfect children, but I suspect not? A quick browse through the chatrooms of Net Mums et al is enough to dispel the notion that our little cherubs are...well...cherubic in any sense of the word. If even the proud, brand name buggy pushing, hot house educating mums that frequent these sites are prepared to admit that little Harry & Chelsea still squirm & fight when they are shoved in their Prada car seats in the back of the 4x4, then it must be true - our children are not perfect - 'Get me a Nanny whilst I go back to work!'
It starts at the very beginning. The first word my children uttered was ‘No!’
They said it once & we smiled – then it came out over & over, usually in various embarrassing & inappropriate moments in the company of tutting adults who thought we ought to do better as parents!
Now they are older it’s the other way round, it feels like us saying no to them all the time.‘Mum, can I just.....NO!’ Before they've even finished the sentence, before the request is officially lodged, Mum just knows that it's a 'No!' Even if they manage to break her down, relentlessly pushing & nagging until they wring a 'We'll see....' out of her, they know in the cold light of day that 'We'll see' is just another form of words for 'No!'
The bible tells us in Titus 2 that grace has appeared on planet earth. This is grace for everyone,in & through the person of Jesus Christ who is full of grace & truth.
Not only has this grace brought us salvation – breaking the power of sin & fulfilling every perfection of the law – but this grace disciples us. Grace parents us, it teaches & instructs, it helps us to grow up out of fear & live securely as sons & daughters of God in the world. More than just setting us free, it shepherds us into the safety of right living – grace shapes our lives. Grace teaches us to say no!
Surely we don’t need to be taught to say no when we’ve been saying it from the earliest age? Saying 'no' is the one thing that we're rather good at, I thought we'd proved that?
Eileen Hayes, in her article for the BBC Health website puts it this way, 'Your toddler's constant use of the word "no" stems from a strong desire to be independent.' Unwittingly, Eileen has made a thoroughly theological point!
Actually, in saying 'no', we’ve inadvertently been saying ‘yes’ to something else from the very start of our lives – right from the beginning we've been setting ourselves up for a life of independence; Asserting our right to choose our own destiny, rebelling against any authority which threatens to stop us doing life our own way.
In this we mirror the original rebellion of Adam & Eve. Deceived by the temptation: ‘You can be like God, you can choose. He’s holding out on you, assert your independence.’ In the face of this siren onslaught Adam was disobedient – we are rightly called children of disobedience to this day. We’ve been saying ‘no’ to God & ‘yes’ to sinful choices ever since then. This grace which has appeared is the parent we've been looking for. It sets into motion a counter revolution, the rebels become the saints, we learn to say ‘no’ to sin & ‘yes’ to God – Grace reverses the curse!