When I was a child, my dad used to take me out on our boat and he’d let me steer. It was scary on the vast Atlantic Ocean, but my dad who was 6’4” and who I believed could do anything, stood at my side and pointed to a place far off on the horizon. “That’s where we’re going,” he’d say. “Just stay between the buoys.”
The buoys were markers that warned boaters of shallow water or reefs. As long as you stayed between the buoys, you were fine, even in low tide. The thought of running our beautiful cabin cruiser on a reef kept me dead-on course every time.
Today, August 29th, is the “anniversary” of my separation from husband of 20 years.
Emotionally and spiritually, it has been the hardest year of my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wouldn’t go back to who I was and where I was even for this week’s lottery win.
It has been a gift from God, a gift of pain.
As adults whenever we’re hurt, we want to blame someone. Even though in all likelihood we had some part in creating our painful situation, we can quickly develop a blind spot to our sin.
Fortunately, though my sin wasn’t small (no sin is), my blind spot was; not because I’m so awesome but because God is. I think he spent every one of my 30 years as a disciple preparing me for the last 12 months.
My prayer is that Russ and I can be reconciled, but as a recovering control freak, a.k.a., co-dependent, I’m more and more at peace with surrendering the direction of my life’s to God’s knowledge and will (“Just stay between the buoys”). It’s been downright terrifying at times. But somehow all the bills are getting paid, I still have my house, and my kids have adjusted well to the new situation.
In fact, since my eldest daughter entered middle school this year, Hebrews 12:11 has taken on a whole new meaning for everyone in the house: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” This is one of those passages that you never purposefully pray to understand. Who wants to be disciplined? Who wants to suffer?
It’s nice to preach this verse to our kids, but when we have to turn it on ourselves, when our whole world implodes, disintegrates, or is vaporized before our eyes. When the ground seems to fall out from beneath our feet, God’s word becomes both our discipler and our comforter.
The key to this passage is in the last six words “those who have been trained by it”. We can endure discipline, fighting God every step of the way, and not let it teach us anything. That’s just stupid (Proverbs 12:1). Do we want to have to go through the same pain over and over again because we refuse to learn it the first time?
I have a choice how I see pain and hardship: I can see it as the knife. I can be the victim and implore God, Why me? I can look and look in all the wrong places for the answer and all the pain will have been for nothing.
Or I can see the agony as a hug, a kiss, an “I love you” from my Daddy who trusts me enough to steer the boat, but is trying to keep me between the buoys so I don’t get caught in the reefs, get my underbelly cut and gouged, so I don’t run aground. And worse, so I don’t sink and drown.
What lesson is God trying to teach you that you are resisting learning?