Lately, I really enjoy the idea of writing several posts on one topic, or on related topics. The few spiritual disciplines posts I did were fun to do, and perhaps I’ll continue to write on that, but I really felt like it was time to focus specifically on Christians and our behavior. This is nothing new to very Much Later, but then again, I’ve never decided to focus on it, either. That said, here’s my first go at it. Let me know what you think.
Like most children, his restless little body couldn’t sit in a chair at the table for more than a minute. He slithered out of it and ate his breakfast standing. Then walked to the other side of the table and reached across it to retrieve a piece of bacon. While still munching on the crunchy strip of goodness, Oliver affectionately tried to crawl into his older brother’s chair. The friendliness of this gesture was met with a grumble and a shove, followed by the boys’ mother grabbing squirming child and carrying him full circle, back to his own seat.
A minute of eating eggs passed before Oliver stood up on his chair and began surveying the kitchen for some sort of entertainment. No dogs in the kitchen, his brother still looked grumpy, and his sister hadn’t even come down stairs for breakfast yet. His mother was at the stove, cooking her own breakfast now that the children had theirs. As she finished, she took the skillet off the front burner, walked over to the sink and yanked the faucet on. Cool water transformed to steam as it hit the pan. Walking out of the kitchen, Oliver’s mom shouted for his sister to get down stairs and eat while it was still hot.
In his surveillance, Oliver noticed the dull, glowing red spiral. The front burner was still on. His four-year-old self couldn’t resist the desire to investigate. He grabbed another piece of bacon, slid down from his chair and marched over to the stove. He wasn’t tall enough to see the top of the oven, so he scampered to the pantry, opened the door, grabbed the stepping-stool with his free hand (he hadn’t finished his bacon yet) and dragged it to the place just in front of the oven.
He placed one little foot on the stool, grabbed the handle on the oven with his bacon-free hand, then planted another foot on the stepping stool and and pulled himself up. He saw up-close what had caught his attention from across the room. The spiral was still red with heat. One hand carried the bacon to his mouth for another bite with the other began reaching for the burner. Oliver felt heat as his hand got closer, he felt it on his face when he had stood up there, but still wanted just one touch to see just how hot it really was.
The heat caused Oliver’s grip on his breakfast to release. It fell on the stove while his other hand jerked back hard enough that Oliver fell off the stepping stool backward. His mom heard a scream, then a thud. She ran into the kitchen and saw her youngest on his back, staring at his hand, as he inched away from the stove. She saw the stepping stool and immediately knew what had taken place. She picked him up and examined the damage while he looked at the stove in terror, and continued to scream.
★ ★ ★
Naturally, we pull back from pain. No sane person readily submits their body to physical torment, unless it’s exercise, but that’s got some sort of reward, right? Emotional pain is no different. When something causes us to hurt, the knee-jerk reaction is to get the hell out of there and to never subject ourselves to it again because that seems like the best way to survive.
It seems that in a believer’s life, this is no different. We leave churches that have hurt us, and sometimes it’s right. We kill relationships because that flaky bad-word of a person couldn’t be a Christian if they did that to us, and we certainly aren’t going to go through that again. We stop asking God to take care of the single thing that meant the most to us, because after years of praying about it, He still didn’t do anything.
Something deep down inside of us is interested in self-preservation.
When something hurts us, we need to make sure that our recoil doesn’t send us sprawling over on our backs. We have to ask Jesus for the strength to approach it again because most likely, it wasn’t supposed to hurt us or perhaps, we’ve learned our lesson and can now do something differently.