Ask my fifteen-year-old daughter Hannah to define junior high, and the Greek mythology buff will retort, "The Social Underworld." By association, parenting during this era teetered at a similar depth. Although Romans 8:28 promises Christians "all things work together for good," we don't always get to see or understand heaven's purposes for heartache. This mom is grateful that God has answered her daughter's "Why?" with at least partial insight. She and I were recently listing some "good" outcomes when I asked,
"Do you see how God was directing you?"
"Mom, you've got to stop using that word."
"Directing. That implies God gently guiding you. I was shoved in the back like, 'I'm going to make you so miserable you have to change.' Shoving, mother. Shoving."
She's right. Sometimes, God shoves. Or drags...like the time God's angels protectively yanked Lot out of Sodom. Or flattens...as when spiritually-sightless Saul was leveled and blinded on the road to Damascus. Joseph's involuntary relocation to Egypt began with shoving into a cistern, continued with pushing into prison, and ended with "the saving of many lives."
In Amos 4:6, God tells Israel, "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town." Gave empty stomachs? Gave? This sounds suspiciously like shoving. God goes on to list other "presents" He sent Israel such as: drought, blight, locusts, plagues, and war. But five times He reiterates why he shoved, "Yet you have not returned to me." God longed for a relationship with his children and was propelling them to change, but they did not.
In my family, pain produced change. After nine years in a private school with 60 classmates, Hannah transferred to a mega public school with a freshman class of over 500. Consequently, I resigned my full-time teaching job--mostly to focus on being mom during her transition. Change has produced challenges, but also spiritual growth, new relationships, exciting opportunities, and contentment. However, the effect of shoving that has impacted me most deeply began several weeks ago when we picked up one of Hannah's new unsaved friends for youth group. The next week, the girl returned on her own. The following week, she brought a friend, and the fourth week, her cousin. Shoving to a new environment has afforded three souls the opportunity to hear about Jesus. The New Testament church in Acts was shoved out of Jerusalem by persecution...and the gospel was spread.
Yes Hannah, sometimes God shoves. But the shoving may protect, develop perseverance, grow faith, discipline,or push us and others...right into His waiting arms.
Scripture References: Genesis 50:20, James 1:3, I Peter 1:7, Proverbs 3:12
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Yes, Hannah and Denette, sometimes God shoves, and at other times He deals gently. He shoves me to Montrose after He took my beloved husband and called me to write for Him. I live in a quiet place, a perfect place to write. He gave me good Christian friends in this place. When we submit to His shoving and His gentle pushes, He blesses us. Thank you for the invaluable insights in "Sometimes, God shoves."