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The Test

After the instruction, there’s always the test.
Every time I write a hard article (last week was one of them, well, maybe all of them are) —God brings a test.
Do I mean what I say about obeying God? 
And disciplining my children?
And loving them enough not to allow them to be ugly?

Last week’s article if you haven’t read it, was about training and disciplining our children all the time so we don’t have ugly children.
I used Deuteronomy where it tells us to instruct our children when they sit, stand and walk. 
This week is the painful application for our family—The Test.
We acquired a “stray/gifted” dog when we moved to our new home.
Our son promised ownership and responsibility.
Our yard is small, especially for three dogs.
This gifted dog was an escape artist. 
She would be regularly returned by some neighbor.
Somehow everyone, even those down the street, knew where she belonged.
Not a great way to start our neighborly greeting.
Each time, our son would say, “I’ll take care of it.”

Somehow all the ways of escaping seemed taken care of until…
We dug trenches for all the water flooding under our house.
As we dug, I reminded our son his dog would get out of the yard unless he fixed the hole before he left the yard.
He said, “She won’t get out there.”
She did.
I said, “She stays tied all the time, or you don’t want her.”

I told him to move all the things that she’d get tangled around so she didn’t hurt herself.
After a week of being awakened in the night to untangle her because she was crying, he untied her.
I met her at the front door the next morning.

“You untied her.”
“Yea, well, she was tangled up at 2 am.”
“Because you didn’t move the junk that I told you.”

I try to teach my boys, “My words mean something.”
When I speak, they must listen.
I don’t give a bunch of rules that don’t mean anything.
I only have rules because we need them.
Nor do I make up jobs that have no meaning.
Now I had to either teach my son that my words don’t mean it every time,
Or get rid of the dog.

Before leaving, I asked if he wanted to go.
He didn’t. Understandably.
I reaffirmed it wasn’t the dog that was the reason for this, but his disobedience.
He offered excuses.
He was sorry for the consequences, not the reason for those consequences.

You would have thought that dog was my best friend the way I cried to the Animal Shelter.
But I didn’t cry for the dog. Although it did bring sadness.
I cried for my son.

Why must submitting and obeying be so hard?
Does it have to be?

When God gives us a choice, that means He allows us to fail.
Miserably.
Because it’s our choice whether we submit to Him or not—He must keep His Word.
Consequences of our choices still come. Much as we “are sorry.”

How we must grieve God by all our stumbling, excuses, and rebellion!
When all we must do for happiness is trust what He says and do it!

The dog is gone.
I removed all reminders of her life with us, even her waste.
But there’s my little boy, who thinks he can make all his decisions like a man, who must decide what he will do with that.
I must trust God that what He says about discipline is still true.
That integrity is important with discipline.
I must keep my word.
And give the results to God.

Only He can change the heart of stone and turn it to look to Him.
In this case, my son seems to be listening better.
Though the lesson was hard, it was learned.

And just like me, he will probably have to learn it again.
I hope it won't be soon.
I pray it won't be so hard.
The Test is passed.


How has God tested what you have taught others?
 

I write about what matters...to you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what matters...to Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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