My church hosted a marriage conference last month, and Ryan Dalgliesh of Higher Rock Ministries was the speaker. Ryan is a strong Bible teacher, but he also illustrates the application of biblical principals by sharing contemporary illustrations and personal stories. With his permission, I’m sharing one of his parenting stories from the biblical husband and father section.
When Ryan’s oldest son Asher was sixteen months old, he was moved from his crib into a toddler bed. The first night started well enough, with Asher bedding down without protest. The anxious parents paid close attention to the baby monitor, listening for sounds of distress. What they heard instead was the patter of little feet as Asher filled his new bed with Hot Wheels, lots of them. Ryan went into the bedroom, explained that cars didn’t belong in the bed, removed the offending toys, and tucked the toddler into bed.
The next night, the bedtime routine of prayers, hugs, and kisses included a reminder that the bed wasn’t a place for cars, as well as a caution that disobedience would carry consequences. Unfortunately, impulse control is weak at that age, and before long, the sounds of the previous night repeated themselves. Ryan sighed and returned to the scene of the crime. He spatted the offender on the diaper and returned him to bed, without cars but with assurances of love.
The same scenario played out the following night, but with a different ending. As Ryan heard the now familiar sounds, he reluctantly headed for the nursery. He had only taken a step or two when the thought hit him: Does God really care if Asher has cars in his bed?
As Ryan opened the door, the little culprit stopped in mid stride with a car in each hand. He stood very still as his dad sat down on the edge of his bed.
“Hey, Asher. Come here, buddy.”
Asher looked at him with a mixed look of trust and apprehension. “ ‘Pank?” he asked.
“No,” said Ryan. “I’m not going to spank you.”
Asher dropped the cars, just in case, and went to his dad’s waiting arms. He settled comfortably into Ryan’s lap and looked up expectantly.
“Asher, God doesn’t care if you have cars in your bed. Daddy was the one who made that rule, and it was a silly one. I shouldn’t have made it, and I shouldn’t have spanked you. Will you forgive me?”
Asher nodded his head and then said, “I can get my cars?”
That night, and every night thereafter for a while, Ryan and Asher filled his bed with cars. Then, before retiring, Ryan returned to the nursery, put the cars away, and lovingly tucked his son in.
Matthew recounts a similar story in Chapter 15 of his Gospel. The Pharisees and other religious leaders challenged Jesus because his disciples broke their tradition by not washing their hands before eating. Jesus responded that they had perverted God’s laws with their traditions. He said that Isaiah had prophesied about them when he said people would honor God with their lips rather than their hearts and that their worship would be in vain because their teachings were simply human rules. He further told them that God doesn’t care what goes into a person’s mouth but rather what comes out of it.
I was raised in a time and place where God was worshipped in spirit and truth, but there were also a lot of human rules to follow. Some of them were good rules that safeguarded health and well-being, but others made no sense to me. Time has modified many of the traditions I grew up with, and my own life experience and study of God’s Word have greatly expanded my understanding of the difference between His laws and human rules.
Now, when I am faced with what seems to be an unreasonable restriction, or when I’m tempted to set one for others, I try to look at it like Ryan looked at the cars in Asher’s bed. Does God really care about this rule? When faced with that question, I try to remember what Peter said in the 5th chapter of Acts. The Sanhedrin had ordered him and the rest of the Apostles to stop teaching about Jesus, but he replied, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Available in paperback .
Available in ebook.