Have you ever done something you knew was wrong? Of course you have. You are human. Yesterday I was taught a rather harsh life lesson from God that had I known was going to be so harsh I would have never done what I did. But then, that’s how it goes, right? This is sort of long as it recounts a rather intense snapshot of my day so please bear with me.
I’m one of those people who have problems with authority. So much so that I have to verbally confirm whenever I can that if I place myself under someone’s authority then I fully understand that God will judge that person on how well they lead me and I will be judged on how well I obey the person leading whether that person is right or wrong. When we place ourselves under leadership we hope and pray that they will lead us correctly, but in the end there will be some things that they do wrong. Interestingly, we will not be responsible for their leading, just our obeying.
So, after multiple conversations about this with several people in my life recently, it happened. I lead someone wrong. Mostly in my life I am a follower when it comes to anything spiritual, however in one very specific area, God has allowed me a major form of leadership for a short time: I am a mom to a bright little boy named Jacob. Here is what happened.
Two days ago Jacob got an upset stomach, some sort of bug, and I found him in his room rather upset. We chatted about it and he said it was going away. I asked him if he prayed about it and he told me yes, that he told God he would not play a certain video game all day tomorrow if God would make his tummy feel better. ***TEACHING MOMENT*** bannered across my head. I told him that is a bad place to put God. God is not a genie in a bottle waiting to be bargained with. He is GOD. We got on a great conversation about how big God is and how potentially bad it is to get in the habit of bargaining with the Almighty Creator of the Universe. He got it. He began to cry. He began to pray for forgiveness. We talked some more and I was able to tell him it is OK, he did not know, and God knew I would be here to teach him the right way. It was a great teaching moment. I shared with him that God not only loves Jacob but that he LIKES him too. God knows we are dust and knows we need His patience.
Fast forward to Jacob coming home from school the next afternoon and he instantly asked if he could go back on his vow and please could he play his video game. I told him absolutely not. Flash forward 2 hours later and now I am trying to get work done and he is in typical “bored out of his mind because he can’t do what he wants” mode. I have an appointment that should only last 30 minutes so I tell him, OK, go ahead and play the video game. I will allow it. BIG MISTAKE. He plays it. I get my work done. After 30 minutes I take him to the pool. We talk. I ask him how he felt playing his game. He said, not great. I told him that is his conscience bearing witness against him. He says, yes, but I am the one at fault. Remember, I told you this is a story about my “bright” son Jacob. He is often the one teaching me the lesson. I ask him how it is that I am at fault. He said simply, “Because you are my mom and you said I could play.”
NAILED IT! He was right. I can’t remember but I like to think I said I was sorry but honestly I don’t think I did. We went on with our evening. He went to bed and I decided to do something to help my ear problems. Needless to say what I did was stupid, but based on how I have done this in the past, the outcome this time was not normal. I was given a heaping serving of pain like I have never felt. Worse than childbirth and I did that without any pain killers, fully natural. That was hard. This was about 10 times harder. I felt like someone was sticking knives, literal knives into my skull and slightly turning them. The reason this pain was so bad was because there was no relief. It lasted for 4.5 hours with me crying so loud I’m surprised my neighbors did not call the cops. At the 4.5 hour mark, I was able to stop crying in agony and the pain sort of subsided but only in that I could sit still clenching my teeth for another 1.5 hours at which point I finally fell asleep for 1 hour sitting upright only to be woken up by the pain for another hour, although the last hour was a dull manageable pain.
A lot goes on when you are in that much writhing pain without any relief. I have never EVER gone through anything like that. To say I got a good look at my sin is an understatement. About 2 hours in (mind you I am used to this pain because I have sinusitis really bad but I know it will pass in 10 minutes) I start to realize God is trying to teach me something bigger here. What? When you are in that much pain it is hard to think about anything else. So I turn on my audio Bible and listen. I listen to two back to back days of Bible reading: Isaiah 13-18. And there it is. A small part of a verse tucked in Isaiah 17:11. “…in a day of grief and incurable pain.”
My mind went to all those people in my life who will potentially end up on the other side of eternity gnashing their teeth. Writhing in incurable pain. Such grief as they have ever known. Forever and ever. What a picture. What incredible sorrow I felt. Then my mind raced to Jesus. 6 hours! SIX. LONG. HOURS. He endured pain on the cross. Not just any pain. The worst kind of pain. Something I am sure my pain compared not. It was then that I did the math. I knew, just KNEW God was going to make this thing last for 6 hours. I can’t tell you how I knew but I did. I was humbled to say the least. My mind became clear and I knew what I had done wrong. YOU, my dear reader, know what I did wrong. I was given one leadership job: my son. And I failed. I broke Jacob’s vow to God. I had caused one of the least of these to sin. I deserved every ounce of pain plus more. I was horrified. I took my licks. I woke Jacob up in the morning and apologized. I learned my lesson. I was a bad steward of the “talent” God had given me. Jacob is one of my “talents” and my job is to grow him. My selfish world got in the way of upholding something I tried to teach him was of the utmost importance: God. Then I tossed God aside for just a second. For what? For a stupid worldly appointment. For a worldly peace and quite so I could get my work done.
Needless to say, my world has shifted. I will have a very hard conversation with Jacob today after school. I will have a very hard conversation with my husband today. It is the hard things in life that help us grow. I hope to never have to endure the kind of pain I experienced last night but I also would never trade the experience for anything. The lessons I learned were priceless. I became resolved to endure whatever I need to for the sake of growth and the sake of loving and following Jesus. Nothing else matters. He matters. I resolve to stop messing around and be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better servant, a better slave to Christ.