How God used my 4-year-old granddaughter to teach me about discipline

I love my little granddaughter. She is brings immense joy to my life and can quickly melt my heart with her happy greeting “Buppa!” whenever she sees me. She has me wrapped around her little finger and it is very hard to say no to her pleading eyes. Those of you who are grandparents will understand.

But, like many children, she has already developed a stubborn streak of independence where she insists on going her own way and ignoring the commands of her parents, grandparents and others in authority over her. She has lost privileges and missed out on fun excursions because of her tantrums and sass.

I was meditating on that the other day when God told me that’s how he feels about me sometimes.

He has tremendous blessings that he wants to give to me. He knows they are things I have either wanted or wanted to do for a long time and he’s excited for me to have it. But, because of disobedience or reluctance to quickly follow the direction he established for me, he can’t give it to me. It would be against his character.

I wanted to take my granddaughter to the zoo a few weeks ago – a place she absolutely loves to visit – but I couldn’t. She had hit her mother in frustration that morning and she couldn’t be rewarded for that type of behavior. It was against my character.

While she was hurt by the cancelled outing, she was surprisingly okay with it. I think she’s beginning to realize that her decisions have consequences. Maybe missing out that day will help her make better decisions in the future. After all, isn’t that what discipline is supposed to do?

Even though the fun outing was out of the question, she still got to hang out with grandpa at her house, showing him pictures and playing games. She had been punished with a trip to her room for a while before I arrived, and she lost the opportunity to go to the zoo. But, her loving grandfather still filled her need for attention — even if it was something less than she had desired.

Isn’t that just like God? Even when we are disobedient or drag our feet to carry out his direction, he still loves us and enjoys spending time with us. He provides for our basic needs, as he promises to do, and we are always grateful for that.

But, we may never get to experience all the tremendous blessings he has in store for us.

I wonder how many blessings I have lost, whether financial, material, relationships or missed opportunities, simply because I deliberately disobeyed my heavenly father.

Author C.S. Lewis once noted:

“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We accept a few minutes of quality time with God and think we’re blessed when he really wanted to BLESS us with a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, poured right into our lap.

Oh, how I wanted to take my granddaughter to the zoo! To watch her joy at finding and mimicking the animals. To enjoy an ice cream treat and a carousal ride together. To listen to her giggles as goats licked feed out of her hand. To wave in response to her endless calls of “watch me, Buppa” as she navigated the immense playground. It would have been a spectacular outing!

She just didn’t deserve it. She wasn’t ready. She needed more maturing.

While she was sad, my heart was even sadder for time is running out. She won’t be four much longer and it’s doubtful she’ll enjoy spending a lot of time with her grandfather a decade from now, if I’m even around that long. But raising children is messy and tough lessons need to be learned.

My heart longed to give her the adventure we had planned, but doing so would have delivered the wrong message – that she could still be rewarded when acting in disobedience and doing things her way instead of the way she’s told.

Life doesn’t work that way.

I wonder how many times have I hurt my heavenly father’s heart because my decisions, lack of trust and unbelief didn’t allow him to give me the special blessing he was so looking forward to watching me delight in receiving?

One day I’ll know. But it will be too late for me to enjoy the reward here on earth.

Greg Gerber

Splitting his time between Texas and Wisconsin, Greg Gerber is a DODO - Dad of Daughters Only - who has traveled to every state except Hawaii. An experienced journalist who covered the recreation vehicle industry for years, he released his latest book in October 2018 titled Pornocide: Why Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life. I don't allow comments to my stories because I don't want to mediate flame wars. But, you can email your comments to

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