August 26 – Tough Love

My son, do not despise or shrink from the chastening of the Lord [His correction by punishment or by subjection to suffering or trial]; neither be weary of or impatient about or loathe or abhor His reproof, For who the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 AMP

Oh, how my heart breaks when the media uncovers yet another would-be legendary athlete who lost his credibility by way of a violent temper tantrum. So many have come and gone in my lifetime, yet each of them has at least one thing in common. When it came to rules and regulations, they lacked the integrity of character to adhere to and abide by the ones that “cramped their style.”

Honestly, that is the main difference I see between the Hall of Famers and the Hall of “Shamers.” To be great you have to be able to receive loads and loads and loads of correction and direction.

Beyond the sports arena this fact bares truth, even in practical living. In light of today’s Proverb, I’ll share a moment in my life where I was out of alignment with God in an area of my thinking and desperately needed some help.

My wife and I felt very strongly about having children when we married. And God blessed us with three beautiful babies in the first five years (eighteen months apart)!  And though I was overjoyed they were here and healthy, I was unpleasantly caught by surprise when in that fifth year, my sweetie informed me of the soon arrival of our fourth child.

Not wanting to disappoint or upset her, I began to internally worry about the future. I felt it was my responsibility to figure out how to feed, clothe and shelter all of these people. So, as the days ticked on, my heart became more calloused and cold toward God, my wife and my kiddos.

But that all changed on December 5th, 2000, when my wife called me at the office to tell me I needed to come home right away. Hours later, we said our goodbyes to our baby.
To date, that was one of the hardest things I have ever lived through. You talk about broken, I was indeed a shattered mess of a man that day. It took me all of eight months to seek God about what happened. Regardless of the “whys,” I knew my worries about future provision consumed me all the way up until that dreadful day.

I could say what I wanted (or what everyone else was saying), but our baby was not feeling loved and welcomed or appreciated by his Daddy. Therefore, I got just what I deserved and couldn’t handle the truth. And this is where God stepped in and applied needed direction, with just the right amount of mercy and love, to get me back up on my feet and back in the game.
That’s been eight children ago. But every single time I known someone’s coming since then, the first thing I say before I do anything else is, “Welcome to the Dunford Clan. We’ve been expecting you!”

But without God’s “chastisement,” I could have grown bitter and blamed Him for the unknown and never put the focus where it truly belonged all along: on my fear-filled heart.

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