On my son’s first night of football practice, his new coach started out with a short parent and player meeting to lay ground rules and set expectations.

Twenty seconds in, the coach pointed at one of the players, leaned over and looked into his face, and said, “Put your hand down, and don’t put it up again.”

This was a bit disconcerting–especially since  my particular son likes to ask lots of questions. Many of his questions are good and timely and helpful for the whole group. Some of them are not. I wondered how he would fare with this type of coach.

Please understand; It’s not that I don’t want my son to be corrected. Half the reason we have our boy in football is so he can learn discipline and receive coaching from someone other than just us. But this little interchange between coach and player seemed a little stern to me–especially since it was right off the bat.

That night at the dinner table, I shared my impression of our new coach, and told about what happened to the kids with his hand up. My son said, “But Mom, that was the coach’s son.”

“It was?” I asked, seeing the scenario in a whole new light. We all laughed as the realization sank in. For a coach to lean over in the first twenty seconds and tell his son to put his hand down and not put it back up… well, that wasn’t something to worry about! That was a good thing. That was a father keeping his son in line!

Sometimes it seems like our Father God is harsh or overly stern–especially since he never gives anybody a chance to raise a hand and ask, “Why the cancer?” “Why the flooded house?” “Why the disappointing news?”

Yet, recognizing that God is busy parenting his children can shed new light on difficult scenarios.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:7)

My first impression of our coach wasn’t fully informed. I didn’t understand that he was parenting, instead of just coaching. Maybe, when I wrestle with something that seems so wrong or damaging or un-God-like, I need to recognize the situation for what it is–a Father treating his son as a son. 

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