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Bedtime Stories

September 18th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 4: 1-3 (NLT)

1 My children,listen when your father corrects you.
      Pay attention and learn good judgment,
 2 for I am giving you good guidance.
      Don’t turn away from my instructions.
 3 For I, too, was once my father’s son,
      tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My life is filled with the wonder of youth.  Not my own youth anymore, but the youthfulness of each group of teenagers and young adults who pass through my ministry.  The stories I can tell are endless.  Some of them are so deep and painful that no human will ever hear them except my wife.  Some are so hysterical that I refer to them constantly as moments of joy that have left markers on the path of my life.  The influence of the thousands of interactions I’ve had will probably not be completely understood until I view them through the lenses of eternity.  For now, observation and reflection will have to do. 

One of the oddities of being young is that students seem to have little to no conceptualization of the experiences of adults.  I see it all the time.  Parents who try to impart wisdom hit a generational wall and their “nuggets” of knowledge are hurled back at them.

I suppose that this doesn’t only apply to teenagers.  As a grown man, I still possess an inward desire to experience life for myself . . . even the difficult parts.  I don’t want to be told how it is; I want to taste the spice, the sweet, and the sour for myself.  At the heart of this, I suppose that the desire is innocent.

We go wayward, though, when we staunchly ignore the fact that our parents, guardians, or simply those who are older than us did indeed once experience life at our age.  Notice I didn’t say that they experienced “our lives.”  No, but they did live in a state similar to ours.

Sometimes I think that those who are young really do think that “old” people just went straight from birth to adulthood, skipping the messiness and madness of adolescence and the teenage years.  Our parents never experienced temptation and they certainly never struggled with laziness or irresponsibility.  They never wrecked the car or got speeding tickets.  They never got dumped.  They never felt insecure or had trouble controlling their anger.  The world was different back then!  They can’t possibly speak wisdom into my life . . . they simply never were as I am.

Now, I do admit that the world we live in at present is different than any other time in history, but that doesn’t meant that those who have lived before us have no wisdom to offer . . . especially our parents.

Consider this passage and who’s writing.  Solomon is tying to impart wisdom to his son.  However, he lets him know that what he’s saying was once said to him when he was a youth.  In other words, even the wisest human alive admitted that he had a teacher.  Wisdom begins when we are willing to listen to those who have lived life ahead of us; not just chronologically, but also spiritually.

Just consider who Solomon’s father was: King David.  Oh man, can you imagine what those bedtime stories must have been like!  “So anyway, son, there I was . . . just about your age.  I was surrounded by grown men who were hiding and crying like little girls all because of this giant  . . . this Goliath.” 

“Were you scared, Daddy?”

“Sure I was son!  But God’s power was stronger than my fear!  And His power is stronger than your fear too, son!”

Lions, bears, kings, sheep, caves, mistakes, angels, battles, glory, shame.  Just imagine what all David had to impart to his son.  How foolish it would have been for Solomon to say, “Geez, Dad, you just don’t know how I feel . . . you’re too old to understand.”  Huh, what a waste of wisdom that would have been.  No, instead he said to his own son, “For I too was once my father’s son . . . “

Now, I’m not saying that every parent out there has the wisdom of David to offer us.  But you know, I bet they have something to say that will help . . . so “listen.”   In addition to that, here we all sit some three thousand years later reading the wisdom of the wisest man who ever lived, filtered through the stories of his dad, the King who was “a man after God’s own heart.”  Yeah, I’d say there’s a treasure chest of wisdom open for us to partake of.

In my life, I’ve learned that I have a whole lot more to learn.  I’ve figured out that my parents had a lot more figured out than I thought.  I’ve discovered that my discoveries were already discovered before I ever got there.  Yeah, I guess that’s a part of growing up.  Oh, but there’s still must left to learn.  May we sit at the feet of our Father and our “fathers” and absorb their heroism, wisdom, and correction as dearly loved children. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll be telling your own Goliath story to your little one someday.


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