Disclaimer: God is not angry with me… He is simply teaching me something.
I grew up as the oldest of seven children, yes, that’s right, a large family. We don’t see too many of those anymore. I can certainly say that growing up in a family of seven children, two parents, various friends and relatives all co-mingling was anything but social distancing. A large family has to manage different than a small family. For example, a station wagon was not big enough, so we actually had a 15-passenger van to transport the beehive.
Chores, did I mention the chores? I as the oldest had the most chores (today I think there are laws about that). The lawn had to be mowed. The breakfast table was set the night before after we helped with dinner clean up. Our beds were to be made every morning and there was always some project. Chores taught us a work ethic that exists today, though we complained all the time.
We also had rules, all kinds of rules. For example, we were not allowed to watch television, all five channels, until our homework was done. We were not allowed to eat candy except on Sunday, and man did we look forward to Sundays. We were to have our daily time in the Bible, or we were not allowed to watch television.
Parents who raise a large family must be creative in how to raise such a large brood. We all have different personalities, abilities, skills and ways we learn. Some of us kids learned quickly, some were more hardheaded, some talked back (my problem) while others were more compliant and some talked a lot while others were quieter. However, we all had to be disciplined from time to time… and this was not a bad thing, it is what matured us, it humbled us, and it taught us that life did not revolve our own wants, desires and ideas. The discipline of choice, especially as we got older was the proverbial “time out.” A “time out” was just what it sounds like; it was when we did something that warranted us to be sent to our room for a specific time. I was sent to “time out” often (I believe my longest “time out” was a whole day in my room).
I’ve been thinking lately. I think God has put us all in “time out.” I mean literally sent us to our rooms. There has been a lot of talk about God being with us during this season of COVID19, and He is with us. I wrote about it last month. He promises to provide and protect us as a Good Shepherd. That’s His nature. He is loving. He is kind. He is our Healer. He is our promise maker. He is our Breath. He is our Father. A good God loves us too much to leave us the way we are but will always mold and shape us to His image, and that my friend, involves discipline. Ouch! I don’t like to think of my Father as a disciplinarian; however, He is. I mentioned recently to some folks that I thought God had put us in this “time out,” and they were a little offended (I get it, I find myself offended too). However, to never be disciplined means to never be loved. Here are three things (among many) that happen when we are sent to “time out.”
Remember Who’s in charge
First, I am reminded who is in charge. Lately, I sense we’ve become so smart (big data, science, space travel, all time stock market highs, AI, drones, etc.) that perhaps we forgot who’s in charge. I would be sent to “time out” sometimes because I was rude to my mother or father. I thought for a brief moment, much to my mistake, that my parents didn’t know what they were talking about it, and I would talk back, say something inappropriate or be flat out rude. My parents would need to demonstrate that, though they were my parents, and though they loved me and though they provided for me, I needed to be reminded who was in charge, and some time in my room would help that. Who’s in charge in your life? Who’s in charge in our lives?
Second, all distractions and sources of contention, conflicts and concern are set apart. For example, if I was fighting with one of my siblings (which occurred on a regular basis, it’s how we kept time), we may all be sent to our rooms for some much needed “time out.” My siblings didn’t disappear; however, they simply were no longer in reach. Sometimes, God removes us from things that are distracting us to simply keep them out of reach for a while because these distractions have now become harmful to us and those around us.
Lastly, new perspectives occur while we sit in our “time out.” Life is busy, crowded and noisy. I have often said that nothing good happens fast. My words for 2020 are ponder and humility (never dreamed God would ask the whole world to ponder while we were being humbled), and I can honestly say that is what happens in “time out.” You are asked to think about what you just said or did… to ponder. I also found it to be quite humbling. I don’t know about you, but I believe I have been asked to ponder my attitude, assumptions, priorities, loyalties, goals, assurances, sources of joy, hope, security, etc. What about you, any new perspectives?
I know that this season has not been easy. Many have lost a loved one, a job, a memory in the making, etc. We may be bothered to think that we are being disciplined by God in light of what we have experienced. Let me remind us all, God loves us a lot more then we can imagine. That’s why He disciplines us. Therefore, we certainly can’t fall for the trap where we think He does not love us because there is a pandemic roaming around (remember, we just celebrated virtual Easter…virtual for us not for Him). There is always something roaming around. He loves us too much to leave us as is. He wants more for us. He is gracious and patient, as any parent is; however, from time to time the parent must step in and say, “enough is enough.” He does not raise His voice; He simple utters the words. My prayer for myself is that while I wade these unchartered waters that I simply not survive this crisis but that I humbly learn what it is that He wants for and from me, and I come out of my “room,” say I am sorry and change…that’s called maturing.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.
Read more articles by Stephan Tchividjian at: goodnewsfl.org/author/stephan-tchividjian/