No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:11)
I just couldn’t resist. All of us have stories that we don’t necessarily remember but are passed down through the years. Some are humorous, some are serious and some are the things legends are made of. Well, this one I believe qualifies as all three.
When I was quite young, probably six or seven, life was pretty good. We lived in a country setting that was rapidly becoming the suburbs of Jacksonville, Florida. There was a subdivision being built right next to where we lived. Some of the men who were working there would drive these cool wedge shape sticks in the ground at the corners of each lot. They had numbers on them. They were surveyor markers for the lots. We thought they made great rubber band guns so we would help ourselves. We had an endless supply of rubber bands because the newspaper came each day with one or two wrapped around it. We weren’t trying to be mischievous; we just trying to have fun. I bet it wasn’t fun for the guys who did the surveying.
Sometimes, our fun might become someone else’s pain. And, there is where the story really begins. Back in those days, going to the grocery store was the great adventure. My dad got paid every other Friday. Payday night we would load up in the car and go to buy groceries. It seemed we would always buy the stuff to make sandwiches for supper when we got home which invariably included a gallon of chocolate milk. It never saw the light of the next morning.
Well, one Friday night, we were at the grocery store and apparently I had a rubber band left over from my adventures that day. I must have reached in my pocket and found the small piece of rubber and thought, “You know, we can have some fun with this.” Well, I probably should have thought that through a little better, but when you are six or seven and mischievous by nature, anything is game. I started looking for targets.
Down the aisle was a rather large woman. And what happens next has been blocked from my memory but is stated as fact. As we got closer to the woman, perhaps as she studied what brand of mayo to buy, I took the rubber band, placed it between my thumb and pointer finger, moved my hand in close proximity to the intended target and let it fly. I can only imagine what happened next.
First, I am certain she was shocked. It must have felt like a killer bee had bit her but that wasn’t logical since she was in a store. So she probably spun around and looked only to see this smiling kid with a rubber band still in his hand. To me it was all fun. To her it was all pain. Lesson one. Don’t let your fun become someone else’s pain.
Second, I am certain my parents were devastated. Since this would have been about 1960 or 61 there were not the social rules about child discipline that we have today. Knowing my dad and mom, there was probably swift and lethal retribution. I can imagine one of them, both of them, making sure my bottom felt like her bottom. No one would have called Children and Family Services. They all would have said, “Let me help you with that.”
Third, I believe that this is when I began to really understand repentance. Repentance means to turn around and go in a different direction. If I could have gotten loose from Dad that night I would have definitely practiced repentance…I probably would still be running. The other meaning of repentance is to have a change in attitude. I am certain that happened. If you were to ask me how many other times I decided to pop a strange lady with a rubber band in the grocery store that number would be zero. So how the urge suddenly left me. I had repented.
This is going to sound hokey but it is memories like this that show how much my parents loved me. They loved me enough to teach me right from wrong, respect for other people, a strong work ethic and to believe in God. And they loved me enough to give me a swat or two when I needed it. It all came together to help me grow, and live and love.
God is the same way. My dad and mom loved me so much but God outshines even them. He loves me and teaches me to do life with fewer oops and fewer consequences. I never carry rubber bands in my pocket just to avoid the temptation. But He also loves me enough to discipline me when I need it. The author of Hebrews says it best. He writes, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Spot on. He must have popped some lady too. So, try and show some grace. I shouldn’t have popped the lady and I haven’t popped any more. Don’t judge my parents for taking care of the problem. I am grateful for the way they raised me. And don’t be mad at God if He disciplines me or you. He is way too wise to make a mistake and way too loving to do the wrong thing. He is our “Abba Father,” our dearest Daddy so we can trust Him. We can rest in Him. Because…He’s got this.