Life Lessons and the God of Redemption

April blog photo

As a mom to eight boys, one of the greatest truths that I cling to is that sometimes the only redeeming value that can be found in a situation is the life lesson that can be learned from said situation. I found great freedom and peace when I stopped trying to make sense from some of the things that my boys did and just rested in the fact that there was no sense to be made and that the best that we could expect at a certain point was to embrace a hard-learned lesson.

Actually, there was a time when I tortured myself with questions like: “Why? Why would they think that this was a good idea!?” or “What in the world were they expecting to happen?” or the one that seemed to haunt me the most was, “Is there some issue with this child’s thought process? What is so hard about thinking through the consequences of this current obsession with fire?!”

Nope, I no longer torture myself with questions that there are no answers to. I have resigned myself to the realization that not only is it futile to seek out the reasons why, but it robs me of tranquility and heaven knows I cannot afford to spare a single drop of tranquility. For instance, one of the boys had the bright idea to strap a belt to the back of his car and then proceeded to pull his brother down the street on a long board. Can you imagine the peace and sheer time that could be wasted on trying to figure out why the boys would consider this a good idea?

So, here I am living in this delicate balance between preserving my peace of mind and trying to find some redeeming value in the antics that my boys revel in, when I am once again faced with the overwhelming desire to wonder, “WHY!”

Apparently CJ felt the need to fulfill a lifelong dream and build a ramp using power tools. As a young lad he was not denied permission to build a ramp, only that he could not use his father’s power tools to do it. (Did you know that not allowing a child to use your power tools is somehow psychologically scarring to them? Me either, but according to CJ it seems that it is.) So anyway, since being seventeen is equated with manhood in his mind, he decided that it was time to put the tools and his skills as a craftsman to the test and build the ramp of his dreams.

The ramp was actually a fine piece of craftsmanship. CJ’s design was well thought-out. It was sturdy and looked great at the same time. So the problem that you are anticipating here was not with the ramp but rather with what CJ planned to do on the ramp. This, by the way, is another hard-learned fact that every mother of boys should take note of. Boys rarely build something just for the sake of building something. Rarely is certainly not never, but it has been my experience that if the boy-child did not start out the project with an ulterior purpose in mind, within about ten minutes into the building process he will begin to formulate a modified objective for his current work of art. This “modified objective” may start out harmless but will eventually end up involving fire, dry ice, or among other things, using their mom’s kitchen towels to apply Pledge furniture polish to the garage floor. Just in case you are wondering as I did about the Pledge; silly you, it makes the garage floor slick as ice so that their project, which did not start out with wheels but now has been “modified” to include them, will slide across the concrete of the garage floor at a much higher rate of speed than it would have without the application of Pledge. This concept also holds true for fathers who, unaware of the enhanced slickness of his garage floor, will also slide effortlessly from one end of the garage to the other.

Wow, I surely did digress. Okay, back to the case in point: CJ’s ramp.

I am sure that as CJ progressed through the building process of his ramp he began to formulate a plan for what he would do with his ramp after it was completed. He settled on jumping his little brother’s bike off of it. He then set into motion a plan to make this Evel Knievel-like jump, that at this point, was just a vision in his head, a reality.

With the ramp in place on the sidewalk in front of our house and his friend, Sarah Jane, positioned in the perfect spot to capture the magnificence on video, CJ slowly rode the bike several houses down and mentally prepared for this feat of greatness that he was about to embark upon. Reaching his destination, he turned the bike to face the ramp, took a deep breath, and began to peddle furiously toward his collision with destiny.

It was a collision all right, but not with the destiny that CJ had dreamed about. The jump did not go as he had planned. It did not end with him taking flight as he left the confines of the ramp and soaring through the air for a glorious half second; as the back wheel of the bike met the ground and then the front landed cleanly on the ground beneath him. Actually, it ended with a collision between CJ’s elbow and the sidewalk.

As CJ and I rode in silence to see his doctor about this elbow that was swelling before our very eyes, the nagging questions of “Why did you think this was a good idea?” began to surface in my mind. I quickly reminded myself that there were no good answers to these types of questions and quieted their nagging voices before they robbed me of what little tranquility I possessed at this point. I began to search for the higher purpose of a hard-learned lesson that could surely be found in this seemingly waste of good common sense. I could think of a few right off hand, including that maybe the baseball team’s first baseman should not have been jumping his little brother’s bike off of a ramp during season or that maybe our church’s main drummer should not have been doing that either.

When Dr. Klepper arrived in the examination room that CJ and I were waiting in, he was thrilled to find out that CJ had his ramp episode on video. (I find it puzzling that my boys think ahead enough to capture their fun on video, but not ahead enough to realize the possible outcome of the fun. Nagging questions again!) So after the good doctor watched the video from CJ’s phone he says, “You know what you did wrong don’t you?”

As CJ affirmed that he did not know what he had done wrong, I anxiously awaited the life lesson that our trusted pediatrician was about to teach my son. At the very least I felt like this man was about to go into full lecture mode about the dangers of riding a bike without a helmet, which CJ was doing. I was unprepared for the wisdom that spilled forth as the two of them watched the video once again.

“See, look right here.”

Dr. Klepper stops the video and points to the screen. Here it is. The life lesson that is about to create purpose in this senselessness.

“You didn’t pull up on the handle bars as you came off the ramp. Not doing that caused the front wheels to hit first causing you to lose control and thereby crashing the bike.”

Not what I expected, but CJ thought it was a really fantastic lesson to be learned.

The best lesson came from CJ’s dad though.

“CJ, right before you got to the ramp you hesitated and slowed down because you feared what was ahead. Had you kept your speed up and pulled up on the handle bars like Dr. Klepper told you, it would have been the jump of your dreams. Throughout your life, fear will try to stand in the way of greatness. Fix your eyes on Jesus and keep peddling as fast as you can.”

Now that was a redeeming life lesson!

The Holy Spirit has taught me a lot in my own life through this ramp incident. We serve an amazing God who can take what seems to us to be just a senseless mistake on our part and cause it to bring honor and glory to His name. With our God, there is nothing wasted. He is the God who redeems! He can take those moments in our lives that we regret, those events that we wished had not happened, or that had turned out differently than they did and command them to work for our good and for His glory. There is no reason to live in shame. Learn the life lesson that Father God wants you to get ahold of and run the race marked out for you fearlessly and with confidence while holding tightly to Romans 8:28 which says, “We are assured and know that all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”

I am so grateful and humbled that the Lord is not only able to take the worst of my regrets and use them for His glory, but He is also able to redeem even the small, seemingly senseless antics of my boys. His goodness and redemptive work go beyond anything that I can wrap my mind around!

For your viewing pleasure, here is CJ’s video:

I am, however, still wondering about the idea to spray Pledge on the garage floor. Is it possible for that to have been just plain senselessness?!

photo Stacy Havens

3 responses to “Life Lessons and the God of Redemption

  1. What a great story! Oh, and the life lesson too! 🙂 As a fellow mother of boys (only 2, not 8), I learned early on that God was refining my patience and sense of humor. These are critical life skills for a mom who’s life is filled with seemingly endless acts of senselessness.


  2. Oh Stacy, what an exciting life you live with those boys! I love your Romans 8:28 attitude of finding the good in whatever crazy things come your way.


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