During my first pregnancy I was living on African soil in a small village located hours from a city. We were part of a small team with only one other child, so friends and family sent books about parenting.
I'm not sure about you, but I felt compelled to do things "right" as a parent. We saw our neighbours parenting one way, the books provided another way; we instinctively carried with us a western perspective, which meant the way we did things was odd when it came to the eyes around us.
But, really, what defines doing it "right" isn't about specific how-to's, sleep schedules or formula vs. nursing, it's much more about modelling the way God parents us and applying that to the variety of situations we encounter as parents.
In her new book Like Our Father: How God Parents Us And Why That Matters For Our Parenting, Christina Fox walks us toward our Father and the truths of who He is. She helps us step away from the pressure of parenting, to focus on the relationship we have with God.
The first two chapters show us the beauty of being made in His image, then how fatherhood is more than just a metaphor, but that we've truly been adopted as God's child through the person and work of Christ. Through the gospel we have been adopted as His child; He is our Father.
So how does God parent us?
God is consistent. He is unchanging from everlasting to everlasting and He created the world in order with structure and a plan. This means we can trust Him and what He is doing in and around us.
God has boundaries. "We are sinners and need limits and boundaries in order to live for God and His glory." We see through the commandments and His teaching that there is a way He wants us to live.
God teaches and trains us. "We are not only saved by God's grace, but we are also trained by His grace. His grace trains us to put to death the sin within us and ten trains us in how to live for Him." Throughout our day to day, our relationships and circumstances, God us at work.
God disciplines. Not our favourite topic, but scripture teaches us that God does correct and instruct us. We need to keep in mind that discipline does not equal punishment, so when we are corrected in the Lord it is for our righteousness.
God gives us what we need. "God provides for us what we need, but He doesn't always give us what we want. In fact, He gives us more." Believing that the Lord provides for us means we have to let go of equating our wants with our needs, trusting His provision.
God is patient with his children. There are so many areas I can grow as a parent, but this is often the most pressing. Like a gardener tending the weeds, watering and pruning his garden, so too the Lord brings his faithful, consistent touch, daily, to our spiritual growth. When I so eagerly want to harvest the ripe fruit, there is much work in tending before that can happen.
God loves his children. We love our children; we feel it in the ache in our heart when they're hurting, the joy in their successes, the sweet moments we share. But, our love is imperfect. Considering the complete, unconditional love of God, of which we are the receivers, there's so much to rejoice in.
If you're looking at these characteristics of God and using them as a measuring stick, you will feel sharply humbled. Gaze on these truths as one receiving an extravagant gift; because of the gospel we are recipients of His grace and goodness. As we consider the greatness and perfection of God, we can learn to depend on and trust Him-for we can do nothing in our own strength.
This book is an invitation to reflect on God the Father and what He's like, so that we can apply His model to our own parenting as we love and disciple our children. There's discussion questions at the end of each chapter which would make it great for use with friends, a small group, or your own personal reflection.
Quick Stats # of pages: 175
Level of Difficulty: Easy
My Rating: 5 stars!
*Thanks to Moody Publishers for the complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to post an honest review.