February 12, 2010

How many times do I have to tell you…

So often, I tell my teenager “we need to leave at X o’clock,” and he’s not ready to leave until X-plus-ten … or plus-15 … or plus-20 …

You would think I’d have learned by now to give him an earlier deadline, like editors sometimes do with recalcitrant freelancers. But no, even after years of arriving late at school, or dentist appointments, or worship, I told him the truth: We need to leave by seven-thirty.

Then I waited with gnashing teeth while he took uncommonly long in the shower, ignored my instruction to wear a sweater and a jacket because it would be cold, and roamed about the house searching for a misplaced wallet.

I looked at my watch. We were told to be at the school at seven-forty-five so he could take the state’s standardized test. It was now seven-forty, and the school is fifteen minutes away. Meanwhile, he looked for a book to read during the bus ride home.

My fury swelled. His insubordination showed disrespect for me and for his own education. I poured out my wrath by punching the wall, scraping the skin off my knuckles.

Once he was in the car, I sped to the school, praying we would be in time. We got to the school office five minutes after eight. Two other homeschoolers waited in the lobby. The secretary reassured me that the testing coordinator had not yet started. Thank you, God. I apologized to my son for losing my temper and wished him well. The coordinator came to admit the homeschoolers into the testing room.

I headed out, still angry. In the car, I prayed aloud, something I don’t often do in solitude. “Jesus Christ Lord God Almighty in Heaven, help me. Why is he so disrespectful? Why does he do the opposite of what I tell him? I give clear instructions, and he doesn’t follow them.”

I imagined God folding his arms and frowning. “Now you know how I feel.”

I would rather punch a wall and hurt myself than hurt my child. In the same way, the Creator poured out his wrath on the Redeemer, shedding his blood rather than ours. And despite our faults, He gives us enough grace that even though we fall short of the goal, we are still admitted into His presence.

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