As I drove home from an appointment recently, I saw my sons bicycle in the street at a friends house who lives a little ways up the road.
Now I’ve asked my son a a number of times now to pull his bike up close to his buddy’s house when he goes there, because if he doesn’t, people can see it from the main street in front of our little subdivision and I’m thinking someone might steal it. (That happened to me as a kid and it broke my heart… My bike was gone forever!)
Only, he doesn’t usually like to do that, because his buddy Max lives up on a hill and he doesn’t want to drag it up there. So as good a kid as he is, this is one area he just doesn’t like following directions.
The Hard Lesson
So when I got home last night, I went ahead and stole my son’s bike. That’s right, I put it in the back of my car, took it home, and hid it around the back of the house.
Some time later, my son walked home, totally confused and wondering where his bike went.
When I asked him what he thought happened, he immediately remembered how I’ve asked him many times not to leave it there and responded, “Oh no… I think someone stole it!!”
Then his eyes welled up with tears and he began crying uncontrollably. And I mean… uncontrollably.
I let him cry for just a minute or so, and then took him by the hand and walked him to the side of the house to show him that his bike was, in fact, not stolen.
He cried harder. For a long time.
He said just the thought of never being able to ride it again if it were stolen is what made him so upset. When he finally calmed down (about an hour later) he told me that he really learned his lesson and he understood why I did what I did because he wasn’t learning the lesson the normal way, so he understood that I had to do something bigger to get his attention. (Smart boy, God I love this kid!)
This Was a Lesson for Me Too
There are more than a few times in my life I’ve had to learn the lesson more than once. I think God sometimes lets us stumble until we really understand the lesson.
It certainly doesn’t feel like love at the time I’m learning the lesson, just like it didn’t feel like that for my son yesterday when I allowed him to cry for a bit until showing that the bike wasn’t really gone.
The truth is, I hated to see my son cry. It wasn’t easy to see how much this affected him. In the end, the ONLY reason I did that was to protect him from the hurt that would come if his bike really did get stolen from him.
He said to me last night at bedtime, “I didn’t want to bring the bike up the hill because it’s hard, but I just realized it would be way more hard if my bike were gone and I never got to ride it again.”
Maybe every time we are frustrated that things aren’t going the way we want them to go, that’s just God trying to make sure we get the lesson. Maybe He’s really just trying to protect us from something we don’t understand yet. Maybe He’s not out to make our life a living hell like sometimes many of us think.
And maybe He, just like me, as a father, hates to see his children crying. But maybe He knows that sometimes it’s necessary to turn us into the men and women He created us to be. Maybe it’s all just a part of growth and we need to learn to embrace it rather than run from it.
“Those things that hurt, instruct.” —Benjamin Franklin
Maybe I’ll think about that the next time I’m in pain. Perhaps that’s God telling me it’s time to step up and become a bigger man.