About 20 or so years ago, our oldest son, Nathan, proudly purchase a new golf club. Well, at least it was new to him. I think it actually cost him around a dollar at the local, used, sporting goods store but he couldn't have been any happier with his bargain. To him, it was a dollar well spent. And to that 9 year old a hard earned dollar wasn't chump change.
When Nathan arrived home with his club, Tim gave him instructions concerning how and where he could use the new toy as most parents would. Nate was basically given 3 rules concerning the golf club.
First of all, Nathan was to use the golf club only in the back yard toward the back of the back yard. We have a rather large backyard, and Tim felt that this was a relatively safe area for Nathan to swing the club. He wouldn't be close to the house or anything else for that matter, so nothing would be in the path of a flying golf ball. Secondly, Nathan was to use only "wiffle" type golf balls. You know, the plastic kind that have holes in them.
So with those rules firmly planted into his 9 year old brain, Nate proceeded to eagerly make his way to the back yard, golf club and wiffle golf ball in hand.
Katie, our 3rd child, who would have been about 4 at the time, and I were sitting in the den floor going through a newly received box of hand-me-down clothes. When our kids were young, we were blessed to have large group of friends who also had children close to the age of ours, so the clothes made the rounds among us. When my kids outgrew them, we would pass them on to the next group who were a bit younger than mine. What a blessing that was!
As my 4 year old and I were going through the latest box of clothes that we had received to see if she would be able to any of use them, all of the sudden and out of nowhere, a loud, crashing noise echoed across the room and Katie's hands immediately went to her face. Milliseconds later, one of the loudest screams that I've ever heard, came from lungs and mouth of my 4 year old with a cry following. My first thought was, "Oh my goodness! Someone has shot into my house!" I'm not exactly sure why I thought that. We have never had any reason to think that we would be victims of a drive-by-shooting. At the same time, I couldn't imagine what on earth had hit Katie in the face! After calming Katie, and calling for Tim, we together set out to determine the cause of the injury. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the glass storm door in our den, the one that leads to the back yard, was shattered also?
It didn't take long for Tim to discover that the deliverer of the "shot into the house" was Nate, our 9 year old, the owner of the used golf club. It became apparent, rather quickly that he had not followed the basic laws that we had laid down for him when he became the proud owner of the used golf club.
You see, the regular golf ball didn't just come sailing through the glass storm door. It came with a force hard enough to travel from the back of our back yard through the railing on the deck, through the glass storm door, ricocheting off of the glass pane back door and landing precisely in the face of Katie who was sitting in the den floor.
Now, you may be asking yourself..."future golf pro?". I would say, probably not so much. But you might also ask, "What are the chances of a 9 year old hitting a golf ball with such force that it sails through the back yard, through the deck railing, shattering the glass storm door, ricocheting off of another door and landing smack dab on the cheek of a 4 year old who is sitting in the den floor? I would say probably 600 billion to one. Not impossible but definitely not probable. That ball could have veered just a bit to the left and sailed past our house and we would have never known. But it didn't. Happenstance? I doubt it. Instead, I choose to think of this little episode as one of divine intervention. I really don't think it happened by chance. I believe God was absolutely trying to get a valuable point across to Nate. The point? That willful disobedience, in particular, at this specific time in regard to this specific thing was not okay. And of course when he was "found out", he reaped the consequences of his willful disobedience.
And what are the applications from this experience for us? There are many, but I want to concentrate on a couple. The first one is to parents of little people. Our little people have to be taught that actions have consequences. A 9 year old doesn't always look down the road to see the connection between those two... actions and consequences. That is our job as parents. And I have to say that I think we're sorely lacking in that area. We talk the talk - "If you do such and such, I will do such and such." but we don't walk the walk. So many times, we fail to follow through with whatever consequences we've laid out for specific actions. Let me encourage you to follow through parents. It is so important! Teach your little people that obedience is crucial for in this, you are laying the groundwork for them that obedience to authority in general is important. And who is their ultimate authority? God!
Secondly, complete obedience is vital- not half-hearted obedience or obeying only if it works for us. We knew what was best for Nathan and advised him accordingly. But as a 9 year old, he chose to do otherwise. In the same light, God absolutely knows what's best for us. He created us! But how often do we say both in word or in action - "I'm gonna do it my way!"? I know I've been guilty of this. But even though it may be painful at the time, I'm incredibly grateful for the ability of our Father to open our eyes and help us see. And I'm eternally grateful that when my heart is in the right place, God will help me to refocus my life so that my actions will follow.
I'm happy to say that Nathan survived that life lesson with a greater appreciation for the concept that actions have consequences. Now, if only we as adults could learn that.