I spent yesterday at work, happily engrossed in two different projects. I love Wednesdays because I feel so productive! Meanwhile, my sweet man was at home with the kiddos, also thoroughly enjoying his day. He cooked lunch for them...actually cooked! I usually make pb&j or cheese and crackers. But Superdad cooked. And Pepper kept bugging him, asking if the stove was hot. Daddy warned Pepper that yes, the stove was hot. Pepper slapped the burner, just to see. Lucky for him, the burner he chose to slap was off.
When I got home from work, Matt was cooking dinner. Teriyaki chicken, brown rice, and broccoli. YUM! Again, Pepper shadowed Daddy, asking if the stove was hot. Daddy again warned Pepper that yes, the stove was hot and DO NOT TOUCH! You'll get burned and it will hurt very badly. Dinner was served, and disaster averted.
After dinner, a family walk, and playtime out on the new tire swing, we came in to watch "So You Think You Can Dance," our favorite summer show. Matt went in the kitchen, followed by his faithful shadow, and made some popcorn for us to snack on while we watched. Pepper again inquired as to the temperature of the stove. He received the standard reply: Don't touch that stove! It is hot and it will hurt you.
Why do children not believe what their parents say?
Mr. Pepper had to find out for himself, so he stuck his little fingers directly on the burner...the one the popcorn pan was on. I heard the sizzle of frying fingers...and I was in the living room. Matt swooped down and grabbed Pepper before he even felt the pain, and stuck that little hand in the cold water. I came in and held Pepper's hand in the water for 10 minutes while Pepper wiggled and fussed. We bandaged the poor, blistered fingers, gave Pepper some Motrin, and cuddled up together on the chair with popcorn and apple juice. And then Pepper's lesson began.
The fingers are blistered, but not terribly. Sadly, they are burned just badly enough to cause a great deal of pain. Between bites of popcorn, sips of juice, and kisses from Mommy, Pepper howled and shook his fingers. After over an hour of pain and crying, he fell asleep in my arms. Thankfully, he slept through the night, and his fingers do not hurt today. It will take some time for them to heal, but they'll be fine.
As a mom, it is hard for me to see my baby in pain. Yet I understand that sometimes children need to learn a lesson the hard way. In this case, I did not intentionally allow him to get burned, but I could not have prevented it. Pepper understands what "hot" means. He has been told repeatedly in the past year not to touch the stove. He has been warned of the pain that will occur if he does touch the stove. Yet nothing would convince him other than experiencing the pain for himself. Sometimes these best thing a parent can do for their child is to not intervene, and to let a natural consequence teach a valuable lesson. I ache for my son as he suffers the consequence of his choice. I wish he had listened to me.
How often is God in this same position? He loves me and does not want me to hurt. He gives me clear direction and warns me of the consequences should I fail to obey Him. I know what I am not supposed to do, but I do it anyway. I'm sure I sometimes leave Him no other choice than to step back and let me have my own, stubborn way. Does God ache as He watches my pain, and does He wish I had just obeyed Him and avoided the hurting? I'm sure He does.
Making this connection makes me want to listen more carefully to my Father. As painful as burned fingers are, I think I'd rather deal with that than with some of the consequences of living life outside of God's boundaries. Is there anything more horrible that choosing a path, knowing full well I'm ignoring God, and then experiencing the decline in my relationship with Him? No. I think not. Often there are other consequences as well. I could do without any of that, thank you.
Are you being faced with a difficult decision in your life right now? As you look down the two paths in front of you, I encourage you to follow God's path for your life, even if it looks darker and scarier than the path you would choose for yourself. Stick close to Him and avoid getting "burned fingers." God know what He's doing, and He will not lead you astray.
Pepper has learned his lesson. This morning, each time he walked through the kitchen, he was careful to cut a wide path around the stove. I also heard him informing Pixie (our kitten) to "don't touch the 'tove...it's very hot and it will hurt you and you will hafta get a bandaid."