Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD's anger.
Zephaniah 2:3 NIV
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 KJV
Zephaniah at first glance seems awfully dark. Full of words like consume, judgement, punish, cut down/off, wrath, devoured, etc. But what if we’re missing it altogether? The message that is. Would you be shocked to know that the message brought by the Book of Zephaniah is parallel to John 3:16.
Its extremely difficult to juggle God’s judgement and Love in the same thought. Its hard to wrap my head around grace vs punishment sometimes. Here’s what I mean…
Being a parent is harder than I ever imagined. Everything I swore I would not do as my parents did, I’ve done. I also face things I did not ever think I’d have to prepare for. The hardest part however, is understanding the fine line between grace and punishment.
Good grief I can hear my Dad (my Mom even) as I write this. Then I hear myself, “What did I do this time to deserve that?” Am I the broken record? Is this what my children hear/say? All punishment and no grace?
Is that how we hear God too? Is that how we perceive him as well?
I will say my kids have not seen or heard enough grace from me. They know a dark side when I’m tired, stressed, anxious, etc. They understand punishment from a “follow orders” viewpoint, but not through a lens of love. It goes without saying, but I must exercise more grace with my kids.
And I always rewind and play back in my head all the times God has been gracious to me. I saw a church marquee the other day that read, “Count your blessings! Recounts are okay.” I hope one day, my kids will look back and recount my teaching them as a blessing via grace and love while promoting principles; and seeing any punishment administered as simply a means of correction to the broken rule.
I hope that’s our right view of God also. I hope we also seek to please him because He does love us and not because he will love us if we do.
Daily Battle Order
Lighten up! Punishment has its place, rather telling more stories is more grace.
Most every night when they're in bed, And both their little prayers have said, They shout for me to come upstairs And tell them tales of gypsies bold, And eagles with the claws that hold A baby's weight, and fairy sprites That roam the woods on starry nights.
And I must illustrate these tales, Must imitate the northern gales That toss the native man's canoe, And show the way he paddles, too. If in the story comes a bear, I have to pause and sniff the air And show the way he climbs the trees To steal the honey from the bees.
And then I buzz like angry bees And sting him on his nose and knees And howl in pain, till mother cries:
"That pair will never shut their eyes, While all that noise up there you make; You're simply keeping them awake." And then they whisper: "Just one more," And once again I'm forced to roar.
New stories every night they ask. And that is not an easy task; I have to be so many things, The frog that croaks, the lark that sings, The cunning fox, the frightened hen; But just last night they stumped me, when
They wanted me to twist and squirm And imitate an angle worm. At last they tumble off to sleep, And softly from their room I creep And brush and comb the shock of hair I tossed about to be a bear. Then mother says: "Well, I should say You're just as much a child as they." But you can bet I'll not resign
That story telling job of mine.
Edgar A. Guest. "Story Telling." Family Friend Poems, 2006. https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/story-telling-by-edgar-albert-guest