This Is Going To Hurt Us Both (Part Eight)
If you have not read the previous entries in this article you can catch up here.
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
Genesis 4:7 KJV
Growing up my idea of cleaning my room was making the bed. My bed was pushed up against the wall on two sides. The head of the bed and one side were adjacent to the wall. That left the foot end and one side exposed to the rest of the room. I was always careful that the blankets touched the floor on these two exposed sides. Why? Because I had shoved everything in the room under the bed and was trusting the covers to keep my secret hid!
Obviously these are not the footsteps my wife and I want Elijah to follow in so my wife has been teaching him how to put everything in its place. We are not real picky about what toys or even how many he takes out of his toy boxes (Yes he has so many he has to have toy BOXES! In our defense they are not really big toy boxes) at any given time.
Every night Elijah seems to love to take the majority of the toys out of the boxes. He takes each one out one at a time. Next he plays with it for a few moments. Then he grabs another one out and repeats the process till there are more toys out of the box then in it. This, of course, is not surprising.
What is surprising is what happens next. Every night before he goes to bed the toys are all put up. At first I thought those little cobbler elves had given up making shoes and were now full-time house cleaners. Then I decided my wife must be picking them all up.
I was wrong on both counts. Well partially wrong at least. Elijah helps pick up the toys. I was amazed to see it knowing he is my son and my own past. Okay my own present is not a lot different from my old days with toys.
I watched it happen one night though. Tracy would say something to the effect of let’s pick up your toys. She picked up the majority of them, don’t get me wrong. But he did help with quite a few.
Now his idea of putting them up was a little rough. There was some dropping and almost throwing but hey he’s a little guy and coordination has not exactly set in so I was just glad to see him getting them in the box.
As he put each one in my wife said something to him. She told him either good job or good boy. I think she may have even clapped as he did it. At first I thought this was a little over the top but I noticed something. He seemed to enjoy being told he was doing a good job. God was telling Cain the same thing. If he would do well God would be proud of him. The same applies to you and I. Discipline is not all about chastening it is also about rewarding good behavior.
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Matthew 3:17 KJV
As I watched Elijah put his toys up I experienced a good feeling. I was proud. I had been proud of him before. A lot of that pride had come from who he was though and not what he was doing. Because he was my son I was proud of him. He is mine. This time I was proud because he was doing something good.
I am almost forty years old as I write this. I have a good relationship with my parents but it has not always been an easy road. I spent a few years doing things that did not make them very proud. I was sowing my wild oats if you will. To anyone out there who might be considering doing the same thing I want to give you a word of advice from the scripture. If you sow those wild oats you will reap them too. It is a lot more fun to sow them than it is to reap them. Those oats are also the gift that keeps on giving. Long after you quit sowing them you will still be harvesting them.
Fortunately in my case that period of my life was pretty short. I would love to say I just grew tired of doing wrong but it is closer to the truth to say it was the grace of God that made me change my ways. He was dealing with my conscience and reminding me that I was his child and he would deal with me in ways I did not want to know about. It was not a lot different than the times someone had wanted me to misbehave as a child and the only thing that kept me back was the fear of my father and mother finding out. The biggest difference was I knew God not only was going to find out but He already knew.
So I went back to church and got involved. I got heavily involved as a matter of fact. It was not long after that God reminded me of a calling he had given me some years earlier. That calling was to the ministry. I began to try and apply myself to the word of God.
Today I have been in the ministry for almost 17 years. The last nine I have been serving as a pastor. I am not claiming to have done a good job. I am not even claiming to have done the best I could at all times. None of us honestly do the best we can all the time. I do claim to have made a serious change in my life direction. I still sin but I am trying to keep it under control and spend more time serving the Lord.
My father is also a pastor. In fact he was the pastor of a church in Greenfield, Indiana and when he gave up the position they called me to fill it. It was my first pastorate. When I left the position they called him back.
There is a question that strikes me at night sometimes or when I am feeling a little depressed. I never ask the question of anyone because I am afraid that pride is at the root of it. I have enough issues with pride as it is so I don’t want to indulge myself but sometimes I really want to know the answer to that question. The question is not one I can ask of just anyone though. I would have to ask my dad. I just want to know if he is proud of me.
Maybe it is something that is built into all of us because I have met and counseled a lot of people who want to make their parents proud. If your parents have a good standard there is nothing wrong with that I suppose. Of course if your father has set bad standards we do not want them to be proud of following in their footsteps.
I hope that my father can echo the words of our heavenly Father at the baptism of his Son but even more I hope my heavenly father can at least sometimes say the same thing about me. He may not do it audibly as he did at the Jordan but he does do it through his Spirit. My prayer is both Elijah’s earthly and heavenly fathers will be able to praise his character and works too.