Steven and Angela both have a bad habit. They pull at their fingernails. They don’t bite them – they just pick at them and pull at them.
Over and over I have told my sweet children that if they don’t stop pulling at their nails, there will come a point when they pull too much and it will hurt. Badly. But, they keep pulling.
One evening Steven came to me complaining of a sore finger. I gave it a quick glance, saw nothing, kissed it, and told him it would feel better soon. The next morning, though, he came to me again, still complaining of the same finger.
Realizing I must have missed something, I stopped to examine the finger more closely. That’s when I saw it – a nail pulled too far, leaving exposed skin that should have been protected.
I sat down to explain to Steven what he had done. I reminded him of all of the times I had warned him about pulling at his fingernails. I told him there was nothing I could do. We just had to wait for the nail to grow back.
The tears in his eyes broke my heart. I knew how his finger felt. I’ve felt that hurt before as well when I have broken a nail. It’s not fun for a place on our bodies that should be protected to instead be exposed. But, there was nothing I could do other than hold him, comfort him, and remind him to choose obedience.
That whole scenario is just one more reminder of our Father’s love for us. The more I read Scripture, the more I see how His commands are not to rob us of our fun. They are to protect us. To keep us from unnecessary pain. There is enough pain in this world from sin – why do we add to it by picking at our own fingernails when He’s explicitly told us not to?
Our loving Father surrounds and protects His children. But, He also disciplines us. Just as I had to allow Steven to feel the pain of his disobedience, so do we have to deal with the consequences of ours. God would not be a loving Father if He were to do otherwise.
What broken fingernails exist in your life today? Are they changing your behavior? Have they helped you in any way to learn more about God’s commands and how incredibly good they are? May the broken fingernails we experience in life serve to remind us of our Father’s love and cause us to honor and revere His commands more passionately than ever before.