Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TIME TAGS: "WAIT FOR THE DING!" -- Devotional for April 13, from Good Seeds"

Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her. (Genesis 29:20)

I am the father of three daughters. I remember telling them, when they got to their teen years – when they started noticing the boys who had started noticing them – something I heard from Christian psychologist, James Dobson: “What’s reserved for the future will not spoil with the keeping.” Young love is often called “puppy love,” a term far more innocent sounding than what it actually refers to: “animal instinct.” The kind of love that draws the sexes together (eros) is not the kind that keeps them together (agape). Though both of these Greek words are translated love in English, they are at two opposite ends of the spectrum: the one has absolutely no patience while the other will wait as long as it takes; the one can think of nothing but self while the other thinks only of the other; the one wants man’s best while the other wants God’s best. I remember when our oldest daughter, Holly (whose birthday we celebrate today), finally reached that wonderful age when she could be read to. I was a schoolteacher then, and read to my fourth graders every day, so I couldn’t wait till I could set my own child on my lap and lift the characters and stories off the page and deposit them, through the magic of books, into her eager mind. But of course these were picture books, and the thousand words spoken by each picture were deciphered by my daughter more quickly than I could read their captions, and so she was ready to turn the page before I could read all the words. So I would tell her – and this became the rule for two sisters that followed, and the eleven grandchildren they gave us – to not turn the page until they heard the “ding” (me, going: “ding!”) This is the Rule of Time Tags: learning to wait longer than we might think necessary, so that everything is ready for the right result. Just because a fourteen year old may have the coordination, strength and skill to drive a car doesn’t mean we would trust him behind the wheel. And just because young teens have all the right parts, in perfect working order, doesn’t mean they are ready to raise up the next generation. There’s a world of difference between “fathering” a child and being a good father to that child, between giving birth and giving worth to your own little one. When Jacob saw Rachel he immediately “fell in love” with her. Was it puppy love? The answer comes in how long he was able to wait – and how hard he was willing to work – for her. Seven years hard labor seemed just a moment to him. And I know from my own long and happy marriage, that waiting five years to love the girl that I loved at first sight was well worth the wait. And so, let us learn – and teach our children – to “wait for the ding.”

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