When I was very little, my parents and I lived in a small rented home. During the winter, our house was heated with a stove that sat in the middle of the living area. Mom said that during the coldest days that stove would glow a bright cherry red. I was at the age where I understood only a few words, so Mom and Dad would caution me by pointing at the stove and saying, “Hot! Hot!”
Like many toddlers I evidently had an ornery streak of independence, because one day when Mom told me, “Hot!” I defiantly ran over and slapped my open hands on the red hot side of that stove.
Ouch! I certainly learned the meaning of hot.
Have you ever noticed that many people believe God is up there just waiting to punish us for our slightest infraction? When we do something to displease Him, when we rebel against His warnings, we open ourselves to a sudden bolt of lightning that’s going to fry us in our tracks? I don’t know about you, but as I live through my life – in and out of rebellion – I’ve begun to believe that God’s punishments don’t come our way because He’s armed with potent lightening bolts. Most of the “punishment” we suffer is the direct result of our poor choices. God doesn’t give us rules to cramp our style. He gives us rules to protect us.
If everyone followed God’s commandments about adultery, many horrible sexually transmitted diseases would never have gained a foothold in the human population. If people kept a Sabbath day and took the time off work each week, we’d live longer, healthier lives. (I’m preaching to myself here!) If we honored our fathers and mothers, we’d have fewer broken homes and broken hearts. If we didn’t covet, we’d be more content, more relaxed, more able to enjoy this beautiful world.
When I touched that hot stove in defiance of my parents’ warnings, I was punished. Not by them but because of the science of heat conductivity. My parents were heartbroken about my pain, and they comforted me and did what was necessary to treat my burns. When we break God’s rules, we set ourselves up for punishment, and yet it’s so important for us to understand that God is heartbroken by our pain – even though it was caused by our rebellion. What a joy to know that He wants to offer us comfort and healing.
Here’s an ever greater joy. When we come to God, broken by the aftereffects of our rebellion, God’s only requirement is for us to step into His open arms.
How about you? Does pain or rebellion send you toward the Lord? Are you able to see Him as a loving Father or, because of your life experiences, is that a difficult concept for you?