So, I’ve been tutoring with a program that helps little Mexican kids with school work, but pretty much every time I show up most of them claim they have no homework and then ask me to draw them pictures. But yesterday they said lets go play soccer.
It was awesome. We walked to a muddy splat of land bordered by two apartment buildings and a chain link fence that held back encroaching blackberry bushes. A couple half-sized goals made out of 2x4s flanked both ends and a puddle stretched into the middle of the “field.” We divided up teams and played our hearts out as we kicked and dodged and sloshed all around that muddy field. But at one point one of the kids outright two-handed pushed another kid right off his feet and onto his butt. I saw it. Now, the kid that got pushed was a nice, tender-hearted, pudgy kid named Brian. I think both of the kids got picked on from time to time but the perpetrator claimed that Brian had pushed him first.
Not knowing which to side with I sent them both to the sidelines for a mini suspension. Mini red cards. Brian’s mouth dropped open and he proclaimed how unfair that was that he would get sent to the sidelines for getting pushed.
I tried to explain that I know it seems unfair, but I wanted them to figure out how to make peace between each other before it gets to me. I want them to be a people seeking peace and harmony instead of a people that tattled on each other back and forth all the time. People of reconciliation, rather than blame.
Of course his tender little middle school heart didn’t understand and he stayed grumpy at me until I had to leave. We were not on good terms anymore in his book.
Today in Biblical exegesis class we read a story in Numbers 16 where some people come up to Moses and claim that he is at fault for bringing them into the wilderness where they’re starving to death. Moses says, well, let's just go tell God about it.
You know what God does? He has all the men who are protesting Moses’ leadership (along with their whole families- this is the unfair part) stand on one side of the camp and Moses’ people on the other. Then God opens up the earth which swallows the protesters and their families and sends fire down to finish off the rest of them.
Several people in my Seminary class (these are not middle schoolers) said, “That just seems so unfair! Why did God have to take their families and everything!?”
I agree. That seems so unfair! I wanna yell at the Ref for this red card.
But I thought about yesterday, and pudgy Brian protesting my unfairness. And it made me wonder if even though God dislikes being unfair, it is more important to him to teach us to be a people whose hearts seek love, trust, unity and reconciliation. Even if it takes a harsh lesson to make us remember.
Five minutes on the sidelines of a 45 minute soccer game seems like a pretty long time to a middle schooler. But it’s pretty sad if that is what makes little, soft-hearted, pudgy Brian decide he never wants to be my friend again. And one generation in a thousand seems like a lot if it’s your generation, or even if we’re looking at it from their perspective. But is it really worth being mad at God forever?
What do you guys think? Is it still too unfair for the lesson God seems to be making?
Raw Spoon. 11-5-15