Peyton finally agreed to go on a waterslide with Troy and me at the indoor water park last week. As we ascended the ever climbing stairs, his grip on the railing tightened. I could see the doubts rising in his mind; this was hard work for him. By the time we reached the top, with only a few groups ahead of us, Peyton began to crumble. The tears started and his head shook as he announced that he had changed his mind. He was not going on this ridiculously dangerous and potentially deadly slide (yes, he is my dramatic one). He planned to walk back down the steps and meet us at the end; preferring safety over risk.
At that point I did what every other practical and loving mom would do. I looked him in the eye, told him he was not going to die and that he better shape up because I planned to plant his bottom in that raft whether he wanted to go or not. Peyton, having been mothered like this before and having had plenty of past experiences similar to this one, said okay and took a deep breath, still trembling but resigned to his potentially dismal fate.
Am I mean? Yes, I can be. I can be pushy, persistent, and downright bossy. Have you not heard me telling you to read your Bible with your pencil?? As we all tend to be, I am hardest on those I love the most. I most often correct and discipline my children (you’re welcome). I most often rebuke and instruct those that I mentor and disciple. I love them way too much not to.
This is not being mean, though it can feel that way at times (and if I do it incorrectly it is mean and sinful). Done biblically, it is loving. Scripture is designed to train us and for us to train others, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16.
I didn't force Peyton up those stairs and down that slide because I am a bully mom or wanted to torture him. I did it because I love him (and we used it for biblical training later). I have been his mom for 11 years, I know him very well. He needs to be pushed to grow; he needs to know what it feels like to fear and to overcome (moms, don’t shelter your children from all fear). I knew he could handle it and that it would be good for him.
It is quite easy to see where I am going with this one. We need some pushing in life. We need pushed toward things we would never do on our own. God will often give us a nice shove once in a while to get us to grow. We also need to push ourselves more than we do. Just as in exercise we have to lift more or run farther or faster to gain improvement. In our spiritual life (which is much more important, see 1 Tim. 4:8) we need to go deeper with God and put in the effort to get closer to God and to see more of him.
If we were already perfect and as Christ-like as we could get we wouldn’t need any pushing. However, as Paul said in Philippians 3: 12, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Paul needed to keep working, “pressing on” in order to become more perfect like Jesus. If Paul wasn’t there I know I’m not there yet. He was still pushing. He was still, “straining forward to what lies ahead” and pressing “on toward the goal” verses 13 and 14 respectively. Do the hard work it takes to strain and press on, study the Word intently, reach out to difficult people with the gospel, give sacrificially.
In other words, allow your Heavenly Parent, who loves you very much and knows you better than you know yourself, send you up some stairs and toss you down some scary waterslides for your own good. Better yet, go with joy, keeping your trusting eyes on Dad. Rejoice in the ride and see where he takes you and how it grows you. Always, always closer to Him.
Peyton survived the treacherous family rafting waterslide, we barely got wet. Seriously, on a scale of danger from 1-10 it would have been a two. Peyton was so psyched that he was jumping up and down, pumping his skinny arms in the air and asking to go again. Which we did, happily, again and again. He even ventured on the slightly more dangerous family rafting waterslide (maybe a three). He overcame and had grown in courage.
Ladies, time to buck up, climb the stairs and get wet. Follow God where he leads, trusting in his sovereign goodness and mastery over the plans of your life. Push and get pushed and grow in God.