Jean and Gabe by Patty LaRoche

Patty LaRoche

My girlfriend “Jean” and her husband allowed their grandson, “Gabe,” to move in with them (for the third time) when he began failing in school and at his job. Their daughter and divorced son-in-law had partied rather than parented and were negligent in their care of this son from the time he was a youngster. Jean did everything physically, emotionally and spiritually to help Gabe, but the emotional roller coaster ride was overwhelming.

When Gabe decided to become a professional guitarist, his grandmother bought him a guitar and paid for lessons. She noticed an improvement in her grandson’s attitude and confidence and thanked God for the change. But when his “band” dis-banded, Gabe lost interest and opted to go to tech school to learn to work on computers. His family celebrated that he had a focus and purpose. His grandmother bought him an old car so that he had transportation to and from school. He worked as a dishwasher to pay for gas and personal expenses.

When test time came and credentials were awarded, Gabe could not pass the exam. His grandmother hired a tutor, but Gabe had test-fright and failed again…and again. He became lethargic, got fired from his job, and the roller coaster ride continued.

Time was up. My girlfriend knew that she and her husband no longer could babysit their twenty-year old. He had to go. Empathetically, Jean sat Gabe down and shared how much she loved him and prayed for him, but that it was not fair to him to be enabled to the point that he had no chance at success by living off his grandparents. She just could not do that to him.

Jean called me to share what happened next. Gabe was stunned. “Oh, Grandma, I am just fine. You don’t have to worry a thing about me. I could stay here forever and be perfectly okay. But thank you for thinking of me. That’s why I love you so much.”

My friend and I laughed hysterically. Her “loving” approach had back-fired.

If you’ve lived past the age of…oh, say, five, chances are your best intentions have—at one point or another–gone awry. Your ministry failed. Your children, whom you raised to love Jesus, now follow the ways of Buddha. Speaking up to your boss awarded you a pink slip instead of a promotion.

Moses knew what that was like. Bravely, he had entered Pharaoh’s presence and insisted on the Israelites being released from their positions in slavery. Moses had been raised in Pharaoh’s palace but saw the injustice done to the Jews (his people) and spoke up.

Pharaoh was ticked. Freedom? Ha. Instead, the Israelites’ work load would double. Too, they would gather their own straw to make their bricks, so it was impossible for their quota to be filled. Should it not be, they were beaten. They asked for a meeting with Pharaoh who blamed Moses. Since he had insisted that the people go, it was all his fault.

Poor guy. His admirable goals had backfired…big time.

Thomas Myers writes about this in his sermon “What Do You Do When Things Go from Bad to Worse?” “They (the Israelites) now believe it is all Moses’s fault! Moses is going to go from hero to zero. He is going to go from the penthouse to the outhouse.”

If you’re like me, you can empathize with Moses. We are tithing, praying, reading our Bibles, attending ZOOM Bible studies… and our child turns to drugs. Our car transmission fails. Our savings account is eaten up with the pandemic. Our aging parents move in with us. And, like Moses, our tendency is to blame God. An easy target. (Yes, that is what Moses did.)

In next week’s article, we will delve further into a more appropriate response.


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