God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. James 1:12.
I’ve always encouraged my kids to always try as hard as they could to achieve their dreams and goals. I never put limitations on them or allowed excuses for anything to keep them from working towards what they wanted. My son was no exception.
My son, although unique in so many, many ways, was always a predominantly obedient little boy. When he was six years old, I had to leave for a few hours so I could visit a sick family member who was in ICU. So, I left him in the care of my daughter, who truthfully would have much rather been hanging out with her friends. In an attempt to keep peace between the two, I gave my son strict instructions to stay in his room and play with his toys or watch his videos until I got back, unless he needed a drink or use the bathroom and do not harass his sister.
Much to my surprise, when I got home, my son was still in his room. I opened up to the door to his smiling face and “Hi mom!” Confirmed by my daughter, he did exactly what I asked him to do. Amazing. This is pretty much the way he was most of the time, with rare exception. What I asked him to do, he would do. We were truly buddies.
When my son was eight years old, we moved in with my mother to help care for her and her property after she experienced health issues related to having heart trouble. He was so excited. He now had two acres of uncharted territory to explore and conquer.
Living in the country in Arkansas, most people were involved in hunting to some degree, whether it be gun, bow or muzzle loading season, hunting squirrel, rabbit, or deer, among others. When my son turned 10 years old, his uncle (my brother-in-law) thought it was time for my son to move into the ranks of being a “hunter.” So, unbeknownst to me, my son was presented with his first BB gun. Yep. A Red Rider, just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. My son’s eyes almost bugged out of his head and he couldn’t stop jumping with excitement. His first gun! Of course, my first thought was “He’s not old enough.” My opinion was quickly outnumbered, even by my mother who cited my brother got his first BB gun when he was 8. Oh my.
Of course, he wasn’t allowed to be outside with it by himself. He had to be taught how to shoot it safely. I would take him behind the old shed and we would line up coke cans as targets. Actually, he became a pretty good shot. I was impressed. When we were finished, he had to put it up properly, neatly in the closet, until the next time he was allowed to take it out again. Strict rules were given that he was never to come outside with this gun without supervision, to which he agreed.
The next Sunday, after we got home from church, my mother and I left my son in the living room to watch TV while we went to take our regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon nap. After an hour, I got up to find my son watching TV. A few hours later, my mother walked through the room and said she was going to town to pick up something for supper. A few minutes later I heard my mother shouting and went out into the carport to see what was going on.
I was shocked. Speechless. The back glass of her PT Cruiser was gone. Shattered. She shouted at my son to “Get out here!” You gotta understand something about my mother. She is generally a pretty calm person. It really takes a lot to get her upset to the point she’s yelling. So, when she begins to shout obscenities, you know she’s just plain MAD! I must admit, I had lived with my mom long enough to see the pattern of whenever something went wrong, she naturally assumed my son had something to do with it. And so…
My son slowly opened the door and stood on the steps. I asked him if he broke the window. To my grief, hesitantly, he admitted to it but insisted it was an accident. I asked him what he did. He said he was trying to kill the bird sitting on the edge of the carport roof. I must admit. He had to miss pretty big to kill the back glass of my mother’s car. I was boiling. My mother at this point was spit-sputtering. I asked him what he threw trying to kill the bird. He said he didn’t throw anything. By now, I was losing patience. “Then what were you doing??” Sheepishly, my son answered, “I was trying to shoot him.” “Shoot him??” I asked. Then it all came together. “Never mind,” I said. I went to the closet to look at the gun and saw he had not put away properly. Guilty as charged.
My mother didn’t say another word. She walked past us and went to her room. Where she stayed for three days. Not saying a word. Not coming out when we were at home. Nothing. I must admit this was a lot. It was much worse than the time my son ran a knife across the felt on her pool table “just to see what would happen.” No. She handled that much better. She didn’t even get this mad when my daughter (17 at the time) thought she would sit my son in her lap and teach him to steer a car down my mother’s long driveway but then couldn’t navigate the foot pedals to stop before she ran into the back of my mother’s car, breaking the taillight lens. Uh-uh. No.
What was my son thinking?? I gave my son the same instructions I had always given him when I got ready to take my Sunday afternoon nap. I expected the same obedient response he had consistently given me. But not this day. The temptation was just too great for him to resist. I taped the back of my mother’s car until we could get it fixed. I called my brother-in-law and insisted he come pick up the BB gun. My son was in tears. He said he was so sorry and promised it wouldn’t happen again. I agreed. It would NEVER happen again. My brother-in-law said, “He’s just a boy.” True. But not much consolation at this point.
Eventually, things settled and now my mother can even smile when she recalls the story, but she’s quit to add she wanted to “ring his neck.” But as love would have it, she still calls him “brat,” and he still calls her “old coot.” Yep. All is well once again.
Temptation will always give us an opportunity to walk to the right or left of the center line of obedience. God’s desire is that we obey his commands, for our own good—even when we think the rules are too strict, ridiculous or otherwise not necessary. I’m so glad the back glass on my mother’s car was the only thing that was damaged that day. My son certainly was not trying to hurt anything or do harm (glad the bird got away.) Even so, as my son learned, the rules were put into place for his own good and for the good of others. There is no temptation too great God does not give us the ability to overcome it. We do, however, have to be willing to stand against the temptation when it comes.