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It’s the Dude!

October 20th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 6: 20-21 (NLT)

 20 My son, obey your father’s commands,
      and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
 21 Keep their words always in your heart.
      Tie them around your neck.

 

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My little girl is the joy of my life.  She is the reflection of a lifelong love between Laura and I, granted by God and sustained by His daily infusion of grace.  My dreams for her are many and they know no ceiling.  I pray for her health.  Her mind.  Her heart.  Her spirit.  Her mate.

How strange does it sound that I would hold a three-month old baby in my arms and pray for her future mate?  She can’t even crawl yet!  Don’t you think it’s a little early for that?  Well, it is early for her mate to come knocking on our door (and to consequently be met by her father with a shotgun), but I know that no other single decision besides her decision to meet Jesus will affect her life more . . . either to her benefit or to her detriment.

You can watch for the book that I’ll write someday.  I’ll entitle it, “It’s the Dude!”  It’s the phrase that has repeatedly escaped my lips over the course of my ministry. “Pastor John, what’s wrong with me?  I feel distant from God.  I’m not close to my best friends anymore.  My parents don’t trust me anymore.  I never pray.  I never read my Bible.  I constantly mess up in the purity world.  I just can’t figure out what’s wrong!”

Hmmm.  Let’s see.  What was the turning point?  You’re dating a dude who we all think is nice and you obviously think is cute, but he’s not exactly where you are spiritually.  He may call himself a Christian . . . which pretty much ninety percent of people here in the Bible Belt do . . . but you’ve never seen him do anything that reminds you of Jesus.  He doesn’t pray.   He disrespects his parents, your parents, and every other authority figure in your lives.  He’s jealous of your church friends and makes you feel awkward when you go.  He doesn’t think it’s wrong to mess around sexually before marriage.  He doesn’t understand or ascribe to your specific beliefs; not just the basics, but the deeper stuff.  In fact, you’re so worried about what he would think that you have conveniently left out the aspects of your walk with God that might make you look weird.  

All in all, you would consider yourself at a different stage of maturity than him in your spiritual walk.  Yet, being around him makes you feel different.  Pray differently . . . or not at all.  Worship differently.  View your friends and family differently.  Hmmm.

Newsflash!  It’s the dude!

Now, I can hear through the pages of cyberspace the applause of the Christian guys who are reading this. You guys are all the time telling your Christian female friends that they make horrible relationship decisions.  Without saying it, you’re saying, “why would you pick some loser out there when I’m a great Christian guy and I’m right here?”

Fair enough, I somewhat agree.  However, first of all my goal is not that everyone would start dating just because seemingly good choices exist.  You should only date if you’ve heard the verbal green light of God’s Spirit.  Most of the time, asking God’s opinion is an afterthought.  Millions of wonderful Christians exist out there, but God has set you apart for only one of them.  You might want to ask Him about it once and a while.  

Secondly, gentlemen, if some of you would show just one iota of maturity . . . like prove to the females that you can indeed carry on an intelligent conversation without searing sarcasm, Dumb and Dumber quotations, or efforts to have your finger pulled . . . you might make their list of legitimate prospects.  I’m just saying.

But thirdly and most importantly, in all reality the guys do the same thing as the girls. You gentlemen make your own fair share of poor relationship decisions.  Hey, your only prerequisites for a girlfriend are hotness, availability, and the ability to speak English.  Scratch that . . . English is optional.  So be careful that you don’t fall off of your high horse because it’s a long way down.  All humor aside (for just like three seconds or so), we’ve all been guilty of missing the mental, physical, and spiritual marks of this most complicated issue of humanity.

But back to my little girl.  Knowing what I know and the issues I just presented, it’s obvious why I’m already praying about her future relationships . . . one relationship in particular.  When she’s old enough to understand, I’ll do my best to communicate to her the importance of these decisions.  I know, I know.  I’m not trying to guarantee that she won’t make mistakes and I’m not pridefully assuming that I can personally prevent disaster.  No, I feel much more humble on this issue.  I’m asking God to make it real to her.  To remove distractions.  To keep her heart close to Him . . . and to me.

Sometimes, moms and dads give their children physical keepsakes to make these points clear.  A locket or a ring.  Something tangible to help them remember the importance of what lies ahead.  I don’t yet know if or what Laura and I will give Sadie, but you can rest assured that my prayer is that she will listen and keep Godly wisdom close to her heart like a precious locket. 

Perhaps that’s what Solomon meant when he said to keep the wisdom of one’s parents “always in your heart” and “tied around your neck.”  Some people would interpret this “tie around the neck” verse as a parental noose of unreasonable authority.  They assume that the direction and correction of their parents is meant to harm them or to keep them from their dreams.  

But for me, that which Sadie will “tie around her neck” is the reflection of our treasured love for her.  There may be times that she feels lonely or insecure.  That she is tempted to trade her long-term destiny for temporary, shallow relationships.  At those points, I pray that something will unexpectedly brush along her neckline and that she will reach down and again grasp that which reminds her of her God-given destiny.  

How would our lives change if we viewed the Godly wisdom and correction of our parents . . . no matter how old we are . . . as keepsakes instead of nooses.  As anchors instead of tethers.  As treasures instead of traps.  There is much pain to avoid and much fulfillment to be found for those who keep the wisdom of God, which at times comes through our parents, “always in your heart.

Hey everyone, sometimes your parents are right . . . it’s the dude!  (Or the chick, if you’re a dude.) Don’t disregard the treasure of their wisdom.  

Oh, and I also still quote Dumb and Dumber.  In this case, I am the dude!

 

 

 

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