I must've held Wes for over an hour. That was after Paco had held him for about twenty minutes, followed by holding him again for about 45 minutes more.
I've also never held Wes until he fell asleep, and had him wake up from a deep, snoring, slumber from pain.
We've all done it. At least once if not more. Touched the burner on the stove top.
Tonight at my parents house, where the stove still has the older-style coil burners, we had finished making dinner, and walked away, when Wesley decided to reach up and grab the burner, that wasn't still glowing orange, but was definitely hot enough to hurt.
He screamed and cried and tears rolled down his face, snot poured from his nose. He would scream and moan, and let out a cry of both exhaustion and regret, as if to say "I give up" because the pain was too much. An h would bury his head into my chest.
Like most kids, he was apprehensive about touching anything- including the ice pack we tried so desperately to lay on his palm.
And eventually, I just held his fingers to it, while holding both the ice pack and his hand in my own, showing him what to do, forcing him to do it, because it's for his own good.
He's only two and doesn't know any different. He doesn't know that holding it on the ice will help take away the pain. He doesn't know that burn cream will help too. He doesn't know how to keep it from "tearing" the skin at the burn site, to keep it from hurting and stinging all over again.
He would momentarily feel relief, because he would then take his hand away from the ice pack, having calmed down a bit, and then would seconds later, start screaming again and shaking his hand violently. And I would have to tell him all over again, to put it back on the ice.
He fell asleep from crying so hard. And would wake up if he accidentally, and without knowing, took his three burnt little fingers off the ice.
Finally. It was over. The relief came. He eventually overcame the pain and emotional torment, and he was back to himself.
But for any parent, the most awful thing we can do is to watch our kids suffer from something, knowing there is nothing we can possibly do to relieve their hurts. I know I feel it.
It could be as small as a stubbed toe, paper cut, or "boo boo".
Or as extreme as vaccines, bruised foreheads, or in this case, minor surface burns to the skin.
But it got me thinking. (Yeah I do that a lot as a mom.)
That horribly awful, terribly painful burn was a small fraction....of another fraction....of the burn that will come from being in Hell.
I know it sounds like fire and brimstone. But I'm serious.
The pain and torment that my two year old went through tonight is nothing compared to the eternal burn of the pit of flames.
The bible is clear that hell will be an awful place. One with weeping and gnashing of teeth. And if you've seen a two year old get his fingers burned on a coil stove too, you've experienced all the weeping and gnashing of teeth you'll ever want, for the rest of your life.
I would've done anything to keep Wes from getting burnt.
And I think any parent would do the same for their child.
So then why do we take a small, surface burn on the skin so seriously, and warn our kids not to "touch the stove", and take precautions like we do, and stand guard, hovering over our kids making sure it doesn't happen in the natural. And yet, with the same breath, we allow them to dangle within millimeters of a place far worse.
I found myself tonight being reminded how fragile life is- yet again- and how I am all the more responsible for these kids. Does that mean that if they choose to rebel against the word of God I will be held accountable? No. Because it's ultimately their choice.
But it does mean I will be held accountable for my actions before they get there.
It means I won't give my kids the option to go to church or not. Whether they're 7 months old, 7 years, or 17 years old.
It means I won't allow them to watch filth on tv, like sex and gore, language and nudity. But it also means not letting them watch shows with magic and sorcery. Lying and slander.
It means not allowing my daughters to parade aroun in clothing too revealing, too tight, too short, too immodest, to be pleasing to the Holy Spirit. Not because it's a legalistic thing, but because I want to be clear on where I want her to "end up".
It means not listening to secular music, because they're picking up everything around them, and I don't want to send mixed messages to their ears, that says "we listen to Jesus on Sundays and when things get tough, but to Rascall Flatts when things are easy and light".
It means showing them what a quiet time looks like...even if it means I have to sacrifice sleep to work it out with all of our schedules. Because when they move out on their own, they need to know that grown ups do this Jesus thing too.
It means bathing them in prayer, both on my knees alone in my prayer closet, and publically where I can lay my hands on them. Because I have to ultimately give the task to God anyways, because I'm not perfect.
It means asking for forgiveness when I lead them on the wrong direction, make a mistake, or give them a false theology in my own "learning" of the subject.
Because I don't want to ever have to watch my son with a burn on his fingers again. Or on his arms. Or his legs. Or face. Or anywhere else.
The flames of hell are much stronger, much more painful, and much more lasting than that of a coil stove.
Parents....it's our job to train them up. We can't sit idly while pop-culture babysits and worldliness nurtures. They need us to be the example we want to see in them.
Yes, I make mistakes.
You will too.
But with Gods help and his unmerited favor and grace, somehow we can live loves worthy of our title: parents.
The next time things get heated- with your toddler, or teen- just remember that the flames of hell are much hotter. And I don't know about you, but I would rather put out a fire here on earth, than watch my child burn for eternity.