A Wrestling Match I Will Never Forget!

The older I get, the more I realize my God is a God of joy and delight!

Janet Page serves as associate ministerial secretary for pastoral spouses, families, and prayer.

I have a special memory of my father during one Friday night worship. When my brother and I were young, Daddy traveled a lot as a minister, and this night was so special because he was home.

My brother and I were giggling and laughing about nothing in particular. We were thrilled to have Dad’s time and attention.

At first, Dad told us to settle down and be quiet as he read to us. But we couldn’t stop giggling. Suddenly, he pulled us both to the floor and started wrestling with us. We rolled around and laughed and laughed.

It is such a good memory—and a wonderful representation of my heavenly Father. The older I get, the more I realize my God is a God of joy and delight! So many times I sense Him saying to me, “Janet, will you lighten up? I will take care of you. Rejoice!”

Don’t get me wrong. He is a God to be reverenced, respected, and obeyed. But He also delights over us. “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17, NKJV).

It is so important that we have family worship together with our children!

• It gives families quality time together.

• There is a great controversy going on, and it is vital to cover and protect our children with prayer.

• It is an incredible privilege to lead our children into God’s presence each morning and teach them that the best part of the day begins with Jesus.

• As we show them our tender, loving Savior, who is with them throughout the day, they won’t be afraid to ask forgiveness when it’s needed.

• Each evening we thank God for His love and protection and read a Bible story together. Sharing the day’s beginning and end with Jesus helps them realize that He is our everything.

Ellen White counsels, “Let the seasons of family worship be short and spirited. Do not let your children or any member of your family dread them because of their tediousness or lack of interest. When a long chapter is read and explained and a long prayer offered, this precious service becomes wearisome, and it is a relief when it is over” (Child Guidance, p. 521, emphasis supplied).

My dad’s example helped me see God as a wonderful, fun-loving Father.

Around the same age, one day I was invited over to a little friend’s house. We had a good day playing together. When it came time for evening worship, her dad sat us down. My little friend started giggling. Her dad suddenly yanked her off the couch, put her over his knee, and spanked her in front of all of us. I was trembling and shocked.

They moved away, and I did not see her again until college. By that time, she had become a hardened, angry, and rebellious young woman.

I realize that other things might have influenced her, but I can’t help wondering if the picture of God she received from her dad had something to do with it. Humiliating, harsh treatment of our children is so wrong and can cause lifelong scars. Believe me, I have had to ask my kids’ forgiveness many times.

So, make it fun. If your children are giggly and can’t sit still, then hug them, love them, and even get down on the floor to play. Let them know our God is a delightful and joyful God.

If your children are grown and you regret some of the ways you dealt with them (like I have), I cannot encourage you enough to claim daily the promise in Joel 2:25: “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (NKJV). Claim this promise; it really works!

Every morning is a new day for each one of us. Our Lord is just waiting to strengthen and encourage us as He delights in us and covers us with His singing.