I was cleaning my house getting ready for company when the phone
rang . . . . . .
“Hello, this is Meijer and your son has been arrested for shoplifting!”
My whole world came to a standstill. He had to be joking. He assured me that he wasn’t. You see, there a lot of things that I imagined my son might do someday but this was not definitely one of them.
As a mom I had worked diligently to point out to my children the importance of being honest. There were so many times when I would get out to my car and realize that there was a sack of potatoes in the bottom of the cart that I had not paid for and I would drag all my children back into the store so that I could pay for it. I thought for sure that doing this would guarantee that my children would do the same. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works (and when I think about it I’m glad it doesn’t work that way because there have been plenty of times when I would not like them to emulate something I’ve done).
The next day (after he was arrested), I was at a football game for another son and someone asked me where my husband was. How could I tell her that my husband was with my son down at the jail watching him get his mug shot! The pain was excruciating, the shame unbearable.
So what do you do with a son who is 17 and is arrested for shop lifting? What do you do when he comes home and wants to go to a friend’s house? I wanted to tell him he was grounded for the rest of his life! Couldn’t he see how much pain and heartache he was causing us? My mind told me that this was not my fault, that I had shown him the truth growing up but my heart was screaming just the opposite – I must be a terrible mom, completely inadequate for the job, why did God give me these children? It was such a lonely, isolating time . . .
We were so empty, we had no idea what to do, how to handle this, we never thought we would be in this position but the emptiness drove us to our knees. We sought God’s wisdom and He gave us clear direction. We had our son call people in his life who were important so that they could pray for him and hold him accountable. He hated doing it but we watched how God used those people in his life to encourage him and to show him unconditional love. We also encouraged him to find a spiritual mentor who would speak truth into his life.
Every step of that difficult journey God was with us. We didn’t see it at the time but one day I took some time to look back and reflect on the path we had traveled and I was amazed at what I saw. . .
Our son had been making a series of bad choices that culminated in him getting arrested and as I looked back over each one of those decisions I saw God’s hand of discipline in his life. Where we thought we were alone, God had been right there beside us adding his discipline to ours, partnering with us.
*When my son threw a party when we were out of town, the transmission went out on his car.
*When we grounded him for 2 weeks because of a bad choice, he contracted Mono and was in bed for 2 solid weeks!
*When he chose to drive recklessly, he was pulled over and given a ticket.
*And when he shoplifted, the same week he had his stereo stolen out of his car.
As I looked over the ways God had brought discipline in my son’s life I was reminded of the verse in Proverbs 3.12 that says, “For the Lord corrects those He loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” And when I pointed out this verse to my son, he said, “Would He just stop loving me so much!”
It’s funny how that is – we want God’s love when it’s comfortable and cozy and safe but when it causes us to grow and pushes us beyond our comfort zone then we’re not so thrilled with the idea.
But praise God He doesn’t always give us what we want!
I hope that this story will give you hope and encouragement. May you know that God is with you when you’re dealing with angry and unlovely teenagers. God is with you when the way seems unclear and your heart is heavy. God is with you when the weight of the world seems more than you can bear. He is with you!
But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.
O my Strength, to you I sing praises,
for you, O God, are my refuge,
the God who shows me unfailing love.