If I had to sum up in one word the name of the miracle that people everywhere are experiencing because they’re applying the 12 Steps to their lives, the word would be “grace.” It is the fundamental doctrine that underlies the entire process of recovery. Grace is the enabling power available to all of us because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we come unto Christ we are able, through His grace, to maintain a good work we would not be able to maintain on our own (See Bible Dictionary). One day in the middle of my home school years and soon after starting to apply the 12 Steps to my own life I was wondering why as parents and leaders, we sometimes fail to teach our children the concept of “grace.”
This scenario came to my mind. The parents of a fifteen your old son give him the assignment to weed the entire farm or else! They know the assignment is impossible, and plan to go out after lunch with all the hired labor and spend the rest of the day helping to complete the job. Purposely, they keep their plan to help secret from their son. Suspicious and afraid that if he knows, he’ll take advantage of them and lazily do less that his best work, while waiting for them to show up and help, they keep their plan to themselves. They decide to tell him about their willingness to help later, after they’re sure that he has worked up to capacity, and after he’s done all that he can do. The important objective is that they get the most out of him. No one is going to pull the wool over their eyes. They choose to encourage good works through stressing fear and duty rather than inspiring the assigned child with hope of completing the work because of the love of generous understanding parents.
The message of the story was, “Nannette, sometimes parents and leaders fail to teach or emphasize grace because they think they need to manipulate the diligence of kids. They are anywhere on a scale of suspicious to terrified that if they teach children and youth about the loving willingness of the Lord to help, the these young Saints will not obey the scriptural mandate to do all he or she can do.
I don’t want to admit it, but I can relate to this situation. As a mother of five and having home schooled for over two decades I have given plenty of assignments to children. Brush your teeth, pull your weeds, practice the piano, work on your merit badges, vacuum, do your math, English, creative writing, science, penmanship, history, reading, spelling, say your prayers, clean the bird cage, clean the bathroom, write in your journal, fold the laundry, and you name it, I’ve assigned it.
Many of the assignments I made were too difficult for the children to do well without help from me. In our family school the rule was, “Go try! See what you can do on your own. Read the instructions. Do the best you can and then come to me and I’ll help you where you need assistance. When you’re finished with an assignment we’ll check your work and you can fix the things you missed.” The kids knew that I was willing to help anyone who was willing and teachable. It was a generally a pretty grace filled atmosphere.
I have to admit that sometimes a child would take advantage of my willingness to help. He or she would lazily hang around, get distracted by every little thing going on in the house and wait for me to pitch in and do their work myself. Another tactic was to whine, complain, and sometimes cry without even approaching a task, hoping that in frustration I might allow them to just give up on the assigned work all together. These were times when I wished I’d kept my willingness to help a big secret.
But the truth is that today’s children need to understand the role of the Savior in their every day lives and in connection to their every day problems. This great need completely outweighs any risk producing children who might take advantage of the Lord. I’m not sure it’s even possible! Heavenly Father’s children need to know about the divine help available to them. We cannot wait until they have turned to every counterfeit solution to problems the world has to offer. Many of these short-lived solutions become habits, compulsions and addictions. They may be a temporary “coping mechanism,” but they are spiritually damning and physically dangerous. Such addictions as drugs, alcohol, overeating, bulimia, anorexia, debt, sexual perversion or acting out hold those desperate for help in bondage and negatively affect generations of God’s children.
I don’t ever want to be afraid to tell others about God’s grace for fear that they will not do their part. When we understand the doctrine of grace, His enabling power, the blessing that His atonement can be to us at all times, in all things and in all places; we start to feel the hope and the courage necessary to get our feet wet, to make a start, to attempt, to begin something we think the Lord wants us to do. I want to teach my brothers and sisters to ask for, to live for, and to act upon the immediate direction, goodness, and power of God to provide the help they so desperately need. Understanding the concept of grace is highly motivating!
In 1 Corinthians 15:10 the Apostle Paul personally acknowledges that the blessing of grace in his life has only proved to spur him on to greater works. He says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I but the grace of God which was in me.”
By Nannette W.
Posted Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Copyright 2008 by Nannette W. All right reserved.
Making or sending copies is permitted if the page is not changed in any way and the material is not used for profit. This notice must be included on each copy made or sent.