Thursday, November 20, 2014

Balaam, Coaching, Teachability, and Gentleness

I never envisioned sitting in Haiti, working through a Beth Moore Bible study on gentleness, and it reminding me of sports and coaching.  However, this one did.  Teachability is crucial for gentleness.  James 1:22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourself.  Do what it says.”  Athletes do this all the time.  Often as an athlete we can get caught up in giving an ear to the coach but then going on the court or field and doing what we want.  We can hear the coach but don’t do what is asked of us.  Christians are not just people that say they believe in God or go to church.  A true believer confesses their sins, hears the Lord’s word, and tries their best to do what it says.  We will fail along the way but there is redemption.  We will lose games along the way but have a much better chance of winning when we are all on the same page and that’s the coach’s page.
Our willingness to be teachable relies heavily on our teachers or coaches.  When there is a level of respect for that person we accept their ways but if we don’t respect them we do not heed to their instructions.  I have been fortunate enough to have several great coaches in my life.  Coaches on athletic teams and life coaches/teachers have been instrumental in making me who I am.  My Christian faith strengthens when I respect and fear the Lord.  Without those, we cannot implement the teachings and instructions.

In this study, we read the story of Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22.  To recap, Balaam basically wanted to do his own thing.  God finally tells him to go ahead do what you think is best.  I remember when coaches would throw up their hands and sit down on the bench, they were clearly saying, you are going to do it your way, no matter what I say, so see how that works out for you.  More often than not, the lead we had would shrink or the deficit we had would grow.  At which point, a timeout would be called; we would circle up around the coach and then try to get back on the same page.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.  Balaam had to be instructed on three different occasions.  Three times he went his own direction and something was placed in front of the donkey to stop him.  Three times he beat the donkey when it stopped and then God opened the mouth of the donkey to speak to Balaam. 

God opposed Balaam because his path was a reckless one.  God had grievances with Balaam because he loved to do his own thing.  The Bible tells us that if Balaam would have continued his way that Balaam would have been killed.  As an athlete, when one chooses to do their own thing, they kill the team.  Balaam admitted his wrong doing and God allowed him to continue on his journey but he could only speak the words God gave him.  Coaches, teachers, bosses do this all the time.  They continue to give us playing time as long as we realize our ways are not their ways and we do as they instruct.  God does that with each of us too.  There is forgiveness if we admit out wrong doings and decide to walk in his way and not our own. 

God’s ways often seem difficult or harsh but then we have to realize that Christ was the hand-picked king.  Coach’s way may not always seem like the right way, but he/she has been chosen to lead and instruct.  Proverbs 13:13 says “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects command is rewarded.” 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Burning as Discipline

There is no doubt I am a firm believer in discipline one's children.  I was spanked as a child (not often but a few times) and I am relatively normal.  It did nothing to me physiologically.  However, abuse is a whole other story.  I am also in favor of abusing those who abuse children.

One morning a beautiful little girl was brought in by a neighbor.  She said that she heard the girl screaming and ran to check on her.  Upon arriving, she could see the girl was badly burned.  She had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on both hands.  She couldn't grip anything, hold anything, and seemed very sad...  The story we received from the neighbor was that the 5 year old girl was hungry and took a bite of fish her mother told her she couldn't have.  In her anger, the mother submerged her hands into boiling oil and held them there.  We were able to build a relationship with her, though she didn't talk much.  She would answer ever question with "Yes."  Eventually we would ask, "Who's beautiful, who's intelligent, who do we all love so much?"  She would answer them all with a smile and "Me."

One day she entered and had a small burn on her arm.  She told us her brother lit a match and placed it on her arm.  She was conditioned not to cry.  She would sit calmly and grimace a few times, though we knew she was in excruciating pain.  She had learned that crying would only bring more pain or that it didn't matter if she cried, no one cared.  She told us one day that her Mom didn't love her.  That was hard to stomach.  She's certainly not the first abused kid I have ever seen but she was the most aware of what was going on and that her parents didn't care.

The neighbor brought her every other day so we could treat the hands.  We would shower her with love and affection and then we would give her water and something to eat EVERY morning.  She told me every day she hadn't eaten.

It's now been 2 weeks since she was released but Sheryl happened to see her in the village shortly after her release.  She came running to her and hugged on her.  Sheryl was also able to speak with her father and explain how she needed to be cared for, loved, and provided for.  That this little girl was a gift from God.

She was one happy girl with all of her gifts on her last day of treatment.