The Importance of Immediate Obedience
As I walked down the mountain, our 3-year-old daughter ran on ahead, like always. She was a high-energy kid. I smiled to myself. Then I saw that she was not slowing down as she came to the row of parked cars. AND I saw a car whizzing around the hairpin turns that went past the park and visitor’s center. In that instant I knew that our beautiful, active child was on a direct collision course with that car she could not see coming as she ran between parked cars. “Amanda, STOP!!” I yelled at the top of my lungs! She screeched to a halt, heels skidding on the gravel, leaning backward to make the stop. WHISH! The shiny beamer whisked by, maybe a foot away from her astonished face. Oh, dear Lord! She burst into tears and I ran to hold her, thanking her for being so quick to obey.
Several times in the course of their young lives, we will probably catch our children on the verge of doing something disastrous – putting a necklace into an electrical outlet, climbing out a window to sneak around to their sister’s adjacent room (on the 2nd floor) or reaching for a pot of boiling soup on the stove. Yup, my kids have done all those things. In that moment we do not have time to explain why they need to obey. We do not have time to argue about why they should obey. They just must. Quickly. Thankfully, in most cases, I caught them, or they survived the potential mishap without severe injury. Often, I would get that nudge from the Holy Spirit, “You better go check on them.” And they were headed for big trouble, like pulling out dresser drawers to climb up on top.
Parents hesitate to require obedience. They are often willing to get into discussions (a.k.a. arguments) over when or how obedience should happen, if at all. Young children need to obey first, then have an explanation of the importance of what you have asked them to do. You are not a petty tyrant, just jerking them around. Older children may need more explanation on the front end, but they should still be ready for the emergency “STOP” you may call out. Prepare them for life as an adult when there are plenty of things we have to obey – God’s laws and morals, civil authorities, and even bosses. Not all things adults live with are fair or equal or likable either.
I love the verse, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat of the good of the land.” (Is. 1:19) Sounds like the blessings of obedience are worth it. Talk to your kids about how obedience makes us happy. Disobedience makes life miserable. And everyone around you is affected by it.
Our family had a disabled friend years ago who had been terribly injured at 3 when she opened a car door and fell out of a moving car. Don’t be afraid of being in charge, of directing your children. Be vigilant and teach them to respond immediately to your voice.
For more parenting help go to www.IntentionalParenting.us or consider my book, Intentional Parenting: A Guide for Christian Parents. There is also a Small Group guide with discussion questions for couples or groups.