"...bar your way..."
"The angel demanded, 'Why have you beaten your donkey three times like this? I have come to bar your way, because you should not be making this journey.'" (Numbers 22:32)
We were trekking down a major highway in southern West Virginia last week when I saw this sign just off to the right on a side road. Immediately I found the next place to turn around and went back to get this picture. You just don't see many signs like this. Now, if that sign wouldn't stop you I don't know what would. We can get so caught up in our emotions and irrational thinking at times that we need a road block to keep us from barreling down a road to our own destruction and the ruin of others. Sometimes we need to have our way barred.
In the story from the book of Numbers in the Old Testament the angel of the Lord tries three times to get Balaam's attention through the falterings of his donkey. Instead of standing back and wondering why in the world a faithful and hardworking donkey would suddenly falter, Balaam gets lost in his frustration and beats the poor animal not once, but three times. Finally the angel of the Lord has to bar his way to get Balaam to come to his senses.
In the early days of our teen-age son's journey through terrible depression and anxiety Tom began to miss more and more school. Suddenly this great, honor-roll student would simply stare at me from his bed in the morning when I went into his room to awaken him and say, "I just can't go to school." I would then proceed to get angry and verbally "push" him to go -- all to no avail. With each repetition of this drama I found myself getting angrier and angrier, until I could feel myself so angry that I wanted to pick him up and throw him through the wall. My anger finally intensified to the point that as soon as he said, "I can't go," I wheeled around and went back upstairs before I had a chance to do something stupid and tragic.
The drama with my son continued until one day the Lord barred my way. I felt the Spirit of the Lord stop me in my tracks and the following dialogue occurred:
Spirit of the Lord: "Gary, what in the world do you think you're doing? You're yelling at this child you cherish because he's ill? Listen to yourself!" What are you afraid of?"
Gary: (And that's when it hit me that my anger was being fueled by my fear and helplessness) "I'm afraid. I'm afraid Tom won't get back to school. I'm afraid he'll fail. I'm afraid he won't graduate. I'm afraid he won't have a life. I'm afraid others will find out and no one will come to me for counseling. Then I'm afraid that I won't be able to support my family. And then I'm afraid..............."
Spirit of the Lord: "Gary, I've got this. Give me your fear and your helpless, and you just keep loving Tom.
That's when I felt the anger melt away, and from that day on I was able to keep a healthy relationship with our son that was healing instead of destructive. Oh, I slipped now and then after that, but each time I heard the Spirit of the Lord saying, "Gary, remember, just keep loving him," and I got back on track. It took the Lord blocking my way that fateful day to keep me from going further down a path of irrational anger that could have destroyed so much.
I pray that if necessary in the future, God will bar my way and set me back on God's way. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.