The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Perspective
No Milk Without Manure
Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.
Every farmer understands this verse. If you want a clean stable, get rid of the oxen. But if you want cattle, you’ve got to put up with noise, trouble, clutter, and mess. Or as Dr. Ryrie succinctly puts it, “No milk without manure.”
Wise parents know what this is about it. Raising children can be a messy business. I speak as the father of three very active teenage sons. When people ask me what it’s like in our house, I usually reply with two words: “It’s loud.” Boys make noise. They also take up lots of space, eat lots of food, drape themselves over the chairs, camp out in front of the TV, and turn the trash can into a basketball goal. Every night they call their friends or their friends call them. When I ask how they are doing in school, it’s always, “Don’t worry, Dad. We’re doing fine.”
Recently Nicholas, our youngest son, spent hours putting together a model of a 1940 Ford Coupe. When he finished, there were bits of plastic, torn decals, and globs of glue spread across the basement floor. “Dad, look at the engine,” he said triumphantly. “It has fifteen different parts"-which he proceeded to point out to me one by one. As I study the model two months later, it sits in a place of honor on his desk, next to his portable calculator and under his Chicago Bulls banner, not far from the cage containing Sir John of Camelot, his pet hamster. There are plastic newspaper bags on the floor, left over from his weekly paper route. As I survey the scene, it seems to me that his room is a little messy. Not terrible, but it could use some straightening up. When I tell him that, he grins, rolls his eyes, and says, “Oh, Dad"-in a tone that tells me that I just don’t understand his world at all.
It’s true, I don’t. But I have learned to have some long-range perspective, to understand that raising children requires a mix of love, humor, patience, persistence, honesty, clear guidelines, and a healthy dose of prayer. Even then, we all know that boys and girls grow up into young adults with minds of their own.
If you want a perfectly clean house all the time, don’t have children. That should solve the problem. But if you have children, don’t be surprised by the noise, clatter, clutter, commotion, action, energy, laughter, and music that children bring with them. It is no accident that life begins with a slap on the bottom and a loud cry. That’s a harbinger of things to come.
Children are a heritage from the Lord. They are also a handful from the Lord. Your manger will never be quite the same again. But years from now you will have no regrets when the Lord brings in the harvest.
Lord, when I am frazzled, help me to see beyond the moment to better things yet to come. Amen.
In what areas of your life do you need long-range perspective right now? Why is that perspective especially important when raising children?
If you have children, what kind of “harvest” are you praying for in their lives?
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