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The Dreaded Drive Home

January 27th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 11: 23 (NLT)

23 The godly can look forward to a reward,
      while the wicked can expect only judgment.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

My childhood was filled with love and happiness.  My parents worked extremely hard to provide a home that was safe and secure.  I always felt that I had value and that my life was special.  I can never repay them for their selflessness and their constant care.  At this point in life, with every bath given and diaper changed, I hope that I can show my Sadie the measure and depth of love that has been showed to me.

That being said, love doesn’t always mean enjoyment.  With my epic guilt complexes and my overactive sense of inward reflection, spankings weren’t exactly everyday occurrences in my life; but they did happen.  For me personally, the expectant fear of punishment was usually as bad or worse than the punishment itself.  

One such example happened when I was perhaps six or seven years old.  When I was young, we lived way out in the country.  Our Sunday morning drive to church was a good thirty to forty-five minutes.  On Sundays, this meant a good two hours of travel roundtrip when you consider that we went in the morning and the evening.

One morning after church, I was in the back of our 1986 Datsun station wagon no doubt tormenting my brother or sister with some childish game of aggravation.  My Dad, the driver, gently instructed me to cease and desist.  I acknowledged him, but somehow the temptation to continue the mischief was too strong and I found myself doing it again.  This time, a second more stern rebuke came from the man behind the steering wheel.  This time, I understood.

Or did I?  I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but somehow I swam upstream against the rolling torrent of logic and reason.  A third and final time, I engaged in the forbidden act.  This time, there was no rebuke from the front . . . only a promise spoken in a low and deliberate tone.  

“John, when we get home, you’re going to get a spanking.”

Somewhere within the recesses of my established emotional well-being, the magnitude of my mistake suddenly became crystal clear.  Though I can’t remember the offense, I certainly remember that thirty-minute ride home.  Why?  Because I was stricken with such dread that my eyes oozed with the liquid fruits of my regret. I built up in my mind the future experience that would no doubt leave me unable to sit down for week.  I quivered with anticipatory anguish.  

It was the longest half-hour of my life.

When we finally got home, my Dad sat me on his knee.  He looked me in the eyes and gave me the reasonable and gentle explanation of why I was being punished. Then, the spanking ensued.  Just let me tell you that I had built up that moment in my mind to the extent that nothing less than tortuous death could have met my expectations.  

In fact, the spanking in question was so much less painful than I expected that I popped straight up in innocent youthful glee and piped in with, “That didn’t hurt!” It wasn’t a rebellious exclamation . . . it was an expression of sheer and utter relief. I don’t think that Dad saw it quite the same.

Expectation is a powerful thing.  It colors the lenses through which our lives are viewed.  Those who are expecting a raise will work harder.  Those who are expecting their boyfriend to “pop the question” will wear a little extra perfume on every date . . . just in case.  Expectations, you see, affect the way we live.

This passage speaks to this truth by revealing what those who follow God, as well as those who refuse him, can expect from their choices.  “The godly can look forward to a reward, while the wicked can expect only judgment.”  It’s simple really: our actions dictate our expectations.

The ride of life is much longer than thirty minutes, but just like that foolish little boy so many years ago, our journey can be filled with either joy or dread dependent upon the choices we make.

Thanks again, Dad, for taking it easy on me.



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