9 ¶ And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight. Philippians 1:9 (NRSV)
By Bro. John L. Cash
It’s kind of nice when you look up and see that your kids are approaching adulthood. You have a sense of perspective you didn’t start out with. The passing of time allows you to look back and see what worked and what didn’t — and what things were important and what things weren’t.
If I had to go back and raise my kids again, there is something I’d do a lot more often; I would pray that the Lord would provide me with insight. When you understand better, you can know better. And when you know better, you can do better.
Allow me to illustrate with a couple of personal examples. When our older son Spencer was born, we naturally thought he was the coolest and most beautiful baby on the planet. We spent our days and evenings rocking him and playing with him and watching him be the happiest baby in the world. He spent every waking hour cooing and smiling at us. (See how happy he was, splashing in the tub?)
Naturally, we wanted the rest of humanity to see what a remarkable and wonderful kid the Lord had sent us. So we decided we would take him to church to show him off.
Imagine our horror when three times a week (Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights) we took him to the Lord’s House and he immediately behaved as if he was possessed by the Devil. One lady actually said, “You know, he really sounds more like an animal than a child.” He would scream and cry and arch his back and shed hot tears of anger, much to the chagrin of his exhausted mother (and his harried father, who was trying to preach a sermon.) See Exhibit A below:
This went on week after week until Susan had a sudden flash of insight. She realized that church services corresponded exactly with Spencer’s nap time and bed time. And he couldn’t go to sleep without a bottle, a blanket with a silk edge to touch, and a teddy bear to scratch with his other index finger. If Susan merely supplied these three things, he immediately dropped off to perfect, peaceful sleep with an angelic half-smile on his cherry lips.
How nice it would have been if we had figured that out just a little sooner. These things call for insight.
Likewise, with our younger son Seth, we (thought) we faced a dilemma when he was about 4 years old. With his older brother at school all day, Seth spent his days playing alone in the backyard (which is located smack-dab in the middle of a temperate deciduous forest.) He was perfectly content all day building things from sticks and twigs, acorns and leaves. (See how peaceful he looks here, lounging around on the sofa with his big brother?)
Being the diligent mother that she is, Susan became concerned. “Seth needs to get involved in group activities. He needs to mingle with kids his own age. This life of solitude needs to stop!” So, quicker than quick, Seth was hustled off to the youth soccer league. He was a good sport and went to all the practices and games for a whole year, without making any fuss or comment.
When the next autumn rolled around, I said, “Well, Seth, it’s time to sign up for youth soccer league.” He immediately said, “Oh no! Please, not that!” When pressed for a reason why he did not want to join up again he said, “It takes too long.” (Admit it, parent, you’ve had that exact same thought at a t-ball game that you were required to watch.) He continued his explanation: “I have things to do. I need to be home with my stuff.”
We presumed that “his stuff” consisted of the twigs and stones he ruled over daily in “The Little Yard in the Big Woods.” What we didn’t realize at the time was that Seth was fine with his life. He just wasn’t “into” big into group activities, and he still isn’t. Now that he’s nearly grown, he still doesn’t enjoy crowds of people. He spends his days in quiet hours of diligent labor, usually helping somebody else on a one-to-one basis.
Seth didn’t need any intervention. His parents just needed to get some insight.
So, this week, let’s pray this prayer:
“Lord, give me the insight to know
When to hold on and
When to let go
And help me to understand the situation
So I can make the right decision
At the right time
In Jesus’ name
And for His sake
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6(NKJV)
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 28 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he has a desk-job at a public school, and until recently taught Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher has found an envelope to mail photos to Gwen Rockwood’s parents and now is simply procrastinating.) Their kids include Spencer (age 22), his wife Madeline (age 22), and Seth (age 19).