David, our four year old, keeps getting into the fireplace and playing in the ashes with his trucks and cars. He drives them all in there and then back out onto the hearth, rug, and chairs. Taking all the ash with them. He’s been repeatedly told not to play in the ashes. He keeps going back. He’s been given every discipline available by the law and the prophets and a few used in the parenting books. He’s had to help clean up all the mess and even had the cars & trucks taken away. He CANNOT stay out of the ashes. Finally, today, at the end of my rope (and it is springtime), I decide that I’m tired of fighting this battle and we are just going to completely clean out the fireplace so there are no ashes to make a mess in. Feeling like I’m giving in and lost the battle cause I’ve been using this disobedience problem to try to instill obedience. I’ve hardheadedly insisted that he “stay out of the ashes.” But, I can’t take it anymore. I’m tired of cleaning all that up and he obviously just can’t learn!! This being where I’m at, I insist he help me clean out the fireplace while his brother plays outside.
We could have been in mourning from the Old Testament, as with tears and ashes we only needed sackcloth to completely fill the bill. As we’re cleaning it all away, he asks me why we have to throw out all the ashes. I’m explaining to him that it’s because he can’t stay out of it so we have to get rid of it. I’m going on and on about how it’s ruining our rug and furniture and since he simply will NOT stay out then it has to go. Suddenly I realize that in my one sightedness of trying to teach obedience, I’m missing this chance to teach fleeing temptation. Exactly!! He really cannot stay out of it, and since it’s wrong to play in it – it has to go!! This way we CAN be obedient. There is more than one way to be obedient to God. The obvious way of doing what He says and the other way which is to remove other options if necessary. If there are no ashes to play in, then it will be easy to obey the command to not play in them.