When I was very young, my father’s pride and joy was his 1960s Sylvania AM/FM stereo record player with built-in speakers fully encased in a burnished walnut cabinet. Apparently, mid-century homes enjoyed some sense of style. His favorite activity on Saturday mornings after breakfast was to open all the windows, turn on the stereo system, and blast opera music. I think he felt it was his sacred duty to make sure the neighbors also were enjoying this beautiful art form.
Apparently, the stylus on the head-shell of the record player’s arm was extremely sensitive and fragile, which is why my father constantly reminded my older brother and I never to touch his stereo system. “Never!” But I do remember having a very good idea one afternoon. I decided I would get out the spooky Halloween record we had and play it before he got home. Why not? What could go wrong? After all, my mother was busy with other things.
Suffice it to say that I somehow broke the stylus, or at least thought I did. Petrified, I ran to my room to await my father’s return and the inevitable punishment I would receive. Anticipating the worst, I collected every pillow in the house, turned out the lights in my room, crawled into my bed, and covered myself with a giant stack of them as a protective layer to reduce the pain of the spanking I was sure to receive.
I waited for what seemed like hours. My stomach turned as I heard my father’s car pull into the driveway. I waited and waited and waited. Nothing happened. No spanking, no punishment, not even a stern talking-to. Apparently, I hadn’t broken the stylus at all. I was totally in the clear!
In the second reading today, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes that we should “not disdain the discipline of the Lord. . . . For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?” Yet, the author does not characterize this discipline as punishment, but rather as formative and educational that “later brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”
Like typical children, we may seek to avoid this kind of discipline at all costs, but the bad things that can happen to us serve to form our characters in virtue. In this fourth week of our Sunday message series called, Bible Oddities, we’re taking a look at another common scriptural misinterpretation. “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is a common phrase but appears nowhere in the Bible. The truth is that God will not give you more than He can handle.
Join us this Sunday or online to learn more about how suffering and hard times can forge us into better, more loving people.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Father Roger Gustafson