The Discipline of Dependence

The other night my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Olivia, woke up screaming around midnight. I was immediately thrilled at the prospect of being awake because I, like you, really enjoy having my sleep violently and suddenly interrupted with opportunities to love and lead my children. The ensuing 30 minutes was a blend of frustration, pride and failed discipline as I tried to get her to calm down and fall back asleep. I have thought about that night a lot over the last several days and have come to appreciate it as an evidence of grace in my life.

The other night my 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Olivia, woke up screaming around midnight. I was immediately thrilled at the prospect of being awake because I, like you, really enjoy having my sleep violently and suddenly interrupted with opportunities to love and lead my children. The ensuing 30 minutes was a blend of frustration, pride and failed discipline as I tried to get her to calm down and fall back asleep. I have thought about that night a lot over the last several days and have come to appreciate it as an evidence of grace in my life.

The idea of sanctification, and more specifically, the truth that God is working all things together for my good so that I might look more like Christ is easy to regurgitate but difficult to really believe and apply in my daily life. I am bent toward a particular cynicism that doubts the goodness of God in my life and His unwavering commitment to finish the good work He began in me. My natural inclination is not to see every situation as His grace toward me and care for me in leading me to depend less upon myself and my wisdom and more upon Him and His.

Two things in particular have been turning over and over again in my brain since that night with Olivia.

  • I am more confident in my ability to train and discipline Olivia when I am in prayer. My first thought is not to pray. My first thought is not to ask the sovereign ruler of the universe to watch over and protect my daughter. The reality that I have access to the Father, through Christ, did not enter my mind when I first heard those cries escape her bedroom at the end of the hall.
  • In subtle ways, I am continually training my daughter in dependence. It doesn't matter the situation or circumstance – dependence upon God or dependence upon herself is being taught. I hope it is the former, even at midnight.

Looking back, I am thankful for those cries and how they tangibly reminded me of God's love and care for me. His commitment to finishing the good work He began in me 20 years ago is as strong as ever. Who needs sleep anyway? There's always coffee.