Sometime around the first or second grade, my teeth took on a mind of it’s own. Let’s just say, a significant gap began to form in the center of my smile. (The gap was only in its beginner stage in the picture above)
My dads advice, “Molé (daughter), in your free time..try and close that gap.” He gave me instructions on how I could use my thumb and index finger to squeeze my teeth together. (Sounds odd, I know…But I guess it’s an old school version of braces)
My response: “Um…okay, Daddy”
I wasn’t always the most compliant kid, but in this case, I did what he asked and somehow my teeth eventually came together. Maybe my dad’s advice worked or maybe my permanent teeth naturally shifted together. Who knows. Whatever the case, a shift occurred in the right direction and my dad was pleased.
Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.”
You’re probably asking….What does a story about your teeth have to do with that verse?
Stay with me.
The amplified version of this verse reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent]…”
My teeth had a natural bent to go the wrong direction. My dad took note of this and wanted to steer them in the right direction.
We all have bents. Both good and bad. Certain quirks, strengths, weaknesses. That is how God made us.
This verse instructs us to not simply train our children…but keep their bents in mind as we train them.
Some bents (like my teeth)….may need a little pressure to be reset in the right direction.
Certain bents may need a whole lot of prayer to be reset in the right direction.
Chuck Swindoll states, “There is a bent already established within every child God places in our care. Each is not, in fact, a pliable lump of clay but has been bent according to a predetermined pattern.”
I was shocked when I read this…..Say what? We aren’t all pliable lumps of clay? Everyone can’t do everything?
The truth is…yes, we are all clay in our Masters hands and God can do anything with our lives if He pleases. But God has gifted each of us (and our children) uniquely. We all have a bent towards something. He created us that way. Psalm 139:13 reads, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Does this mean we allow our children (or ourselves) to just be lazy or just go wild because that’s just the way God made us?
Of course not. That’s where the training comes into place.
Remember, the verse says, “Train up a child..”
Training isn’t easy.
Chuck Swindoll relates the word “train” to that of ‘the training of a horse. It’s important to direct it’s natural energies without breaking the spirit.’
Do you see a strong willed, determined spirit in your child? Father, use it for good and not harm. Allow that strong will to be channelled to do great things for God.
Do you see a child who is overly sensitive? Oh, Father…please steer this sensitivity in the right direction. Let this child be ever so sensitive to your voice….may it be a strength in my child’s life, not a weakness.
Bents aren’t all bad. Each of us have them and God gave them to us. But as my dad advised me, continue to “apply the right kind of pressure in the right direction” and see what God will do.