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The Special

November 20th, 2008

Focus Text: Proverbs 10: 1 (NLT)

1 The proverbs of Solomon:   A wise child brings joy to a father;
      a foolish child brings grief to a mother.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Today, we enter a new “chapter” of Proverbs in more ways than one.  The last nine chapters have been very specific teachings from Solomon to his son.  At times, you may have felt that he was harping on a few issues like avoiding immorality or the importance of seeking wisdom.  Indeed, we have covered these concepts in depth and they will no doubt come up again, but this is also the beginning of a new direction.

The proverbs that we are going to examine now are more of what people expect when they discuss the book of Proverbs.  These are short statements of wisdom that really pack a punch.  In many ways, they are like one of those Five Hour Energy shots– this is wisdom in a bottle and unlike those energy drinks, absorbing shots of God’s wisdom won’t cause your heart to race out of control and will actually keep you from crashing at the end of the day.

As we move forward, at times I will expound upon what kind of proverb we are reading (the word proverb, by the way, basically means a “wise saying” . . . thus, Proverbs isn’t just the proper name for this book, it’s also a description of what we find within it: proverbs.)  This particular passage is something we call an “opposite parallel.”  A proverb that is an opposite parallel gives us a statement or instruction twice, but in two opposite ways.  Many of the proverbs we will encounter will be opposite parallels.  That being said, let’s jump into chapter ten.

My Dad worked three jobs most of my life.  One of his jobs was the assistant principalship at a 5A high school in a rough part of Metropolitan Nashville.  Dad’s stories could fill libraries.  The drug dealers he chased down.  The guns he confiscated.  The threats he received.  And also, the lives he changed.

Dad’s school was about twenty-five minutes away from our house on the other side of town.  Therefore, he was a very early riser– 4:45 a.m. each day of his adult life.  As a child, if you woke up early enough, Dad would make you breakfast when he made his own.  He would make cheesy rice or something he simply called, “The Special.”  The Special was a breakfast sandwich consisting of eggs, fried ham, and about a pound of melted Velveeta cheese.  If I were to write my own opposite parallel proverb about Dad’s Special, it would go something like this:

         Those who eat their fathers Special cheesy surprise will find it tasty in their mouths,

              But, the tastiness will later transform into the shame of stomach cramps and crippling gas.

                                     – Johnverbs 24: 7 (New Johnglish Translation)

As a child, I was convinced that my dad was the loudest morning person on planet earth.  If he was cooking, he did it with the gentleness of a wrecking ball.  At times, I would lay in bed and think to myself, “I really think that he’s just banging pots and pans together in there.”  I’ll never know.  What I do know now, though, is that his volume often roused me from sleep and the diabolical aroma of The Special would lure me to the kitchen counter.  Yeah, I get it now Dad.  All you had to do was ask us to get up and eat breakfast with you.  I guess your way worked too.  

On the counter beside the cheesy gut bombs, Dad’s Bible always lay open to the book of Proverbs. Growing up, my Dad always encouraged us kids to read a Psalm and a Proverb every day.  It was a lesson that he lived out in front of us . . . and he still does.  There is never a time that our family is together for a holiday or vacation that Dad doesn’t pull out his Bible and read a proverb to us before family prayer. Those many years ago at that kitchen counter early in the morning, my loving father knew that each tidbit of wisdom that we would absorb as children would make a difference in our lives as adults.  Dad, it made a difference in me.

Maybe now you see why I’m so obsessed with gaining the wisdom of the Lord.  My father taught me its importance just as Solomon taught it to his son . . . probably minus “The Special”.  That being said, I hope that the wisdom that I attempt to gain in my own life will bring “joy to my father.”  That’s what this passage is all about– the realization and acceptance of the truth that our actions directly affect our parents, guardians, or those who pour their lives into ours.  

For better or worse . . . for “joy” or for “grief” . . . someone’s life will be affected by what we do with ours. Our culture likes selling the idea that we, as individuals, can make our own way without affecting the lives of those around us.  Don’t buy it!  The point is not to walk around fearful of failing those we love; rather it’s to live deliberately with what we’ve been given.

When I wake up my little girl in the mornings . . . not usually with pots and pans . . . I speak words of life over her just as my father did over me.  She is my joy and I pray that I can be a joy to my parents.  Whose joy will you be?  I hope that each of us will choose joy over grief . . . and that we will realize that those are the only two choices.

And maybe someday soon when I got nothing to do but stay in the bathroom the rest of the day, I’ll swing by the house for a Special.  Considering how much I love my parents, the company is well worth the cramping.  Thanks Dad!


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