Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Defending rather than Deserting One Another

I grew up in a house with one full bathroom upstairs and then a make-shift half-bath in our dungeon-of-a basement.

I wish I had a picture of it, but it looked similar to this.

The half-bath had no sink; just an old, rather gross toilet. 

The door consisted of an old sheet hanging in front for "privacy." 

The floors were cement and the toilet paper just sat on the back of the toilet seat. 

It had no electric light, so it was dark and cold.

And there were lots of spiders.

Altogether, it was pretty much a terrifying experience.

My brother, sister, and I ONLY used that bathroom if we were desperateI have many memories in which I sat in the hallway outside the upstairs bathroom door for a long time, trying to "hold it", waiting for someone to finish.  It was a torturous wait but not as terrifying as going down into the basement and using the half-bath.

In the event that one of us absolutely could not wait for the upstairs bathroom to be vacant, we never went down into the dungeon half-bath alone.  We went as a pair.  It was understood that if one of us asked the other to come down to the dungeon...we went (even if it was inconvenient).  It was a terrifying experience, but seemed a little more bearable with a companion to help us feel brave.

If you grew up with one or more siblings you probably understand and can relate to this story somehow.  

Maybe there was a room in your house that was particularly terrifying to go into and you always pleaded with a sibling to go with you?  

Maybe you never wanted to be deserted, as it grew dark around dusk, and left alone to clean up the toys by yourself?   

Or maybe you simply wanted your siblings with you anytime you were scared or sick?

Bottom LineIt's never especially fun to have terrifying experiences alone.

I've seen glimpses of this already with Grayden and Cole. 

Grayden will ditch and desert Cole outside and Cole becomes visibly upset and scared having been left alone.

Grayden will convince Cole to come downstairs with him in the early morning to retrieve a toy from the dark basement.

Cole wants Grayden to go with him and show him the ropes in situations that are particularly new and terrifying.

Having grown up with the half-bath of terror, I understand their desire to want each other around when they are afraid.

The other day while reading the Gospel of Matthew I read a verse that inspired this post.  Just as Jesus was being arrested, after having been betrayed by his disciple (and friend) Judas, the Scripture says,

"Then all the disciples deserted him and fled." [Matthew 26:56]

I'm sure I've read this verse dozens, if not hundreds, of times before.  But on this particular day it stuck out to me.  Here Jesus is experiencing the start of what he knew to be a terrifying death and ALL his friends (whom he loved) desert him.  Excuse my french, but "Yikes!  That really sucks."

On occasion my brother or sister would bolt up the basement steps and desert me while I sat on the toilet of teror in the basement.  I would scream and yell for them to come back.  I became angry and even more terrified. 

Jesus understood my terror...on a much greater scale.
Jesus understood what it felt like to be deserted by those he loved and called friends....on a much greater scale. 

You're probably thinking that Jesus, the God of the Universe, didn't need his disciples so why does it matter if they deserted him.  Yes, you're right!  But it had to have hurt him.  And the terror of what He was about to experience on the cross had to have seemed even more daunting as he stood their alone. 

Jesus overcame his fear of death because He received strength from the Father.  The same is true for me and my children.  We CAN overcome even the most terrifying of circumstances with only the strength and courage that God Himself gives us.  

But wouldn't it also be so much better if we have a friend, even a community, who are with us as well.  For Ecclesiastes 4:12 teaches, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves." 

Therefore, when fear threatens to overcome us, we first and foremost need Jesus, but Scripture is also clear that having someone else along to help defend us is important as well.

So I want to pray that our kids wouldn't desert each other (nor their friends) when they face terrifying situations.  I'd love for them to gain perspective thinking about Jesus and how He must have felt being deserted by ALL His friends.  And I'd like to see them defend each other when one feels overpowered by fear.

Jesus,  You understand how it feels to be deserted in a terrifying circumstance.  Yet, Father God gave You all the strength necessary to endure and overcome Your fear.  Similarly, I pray that when my children experience circumstances that are particularly terrifying that they would first find strength and courage in You.  Would you be their refuge in times of trouble and fear! 

And I also pray that you would make them empathetic to each other and others who are experiencing terrifying situations.  May they not desert their friends and family in those scary moments, but rather come alongside them and help to defend them.  Vice-a-versa, would you bring friends and family into their lives who won't desert them, but rather will defend them when they are facing fearful situations as well.

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