Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Rod of Love

(Thanks to Char S. for inspiration on this one. And dedicated to my father).

My father passed away when I was 2 years old. He had a congenital heart condition throughout his life, and suffered a heart attack and died just after his 37th birthday (and not too long after the incident I will share with you).

The only thing I remember about my dad is something that may actually be an incident recounted to me by family members. I think, however, it is an actual recollection, and before I share it, let me say that those who knew my father have all told me how much he loved me. I was an only child (which may explain a lot!), and I have often heard through the years that I was the apple of my father's eye. I believe it, and the following is to me a blessed confirmation of the fact.

In the late 1950s, many people had box-shaped televisions that sat on tables specifically designed for the purpose. There was crawlspace underneath the tables, and one day I noticed an interesting looking feature of our TV. A plug attached to it was inserted into the wall. This obviously fascinated my young and curious mind, and I made my way under the table and started manually inspecting the device.

My father noticed that I was playing with the electric plug of the television, and immediately reached under the table to extricate me from the danger. Whether by others' recounting the story, or by recollection of the actual event, my backside still smarts from the spanking I then received. My dad let me know that electric plugs were off limits for small children, and that bad things would happen if I chose to play with one again. I never repeated my crime, and must say that ever since the experience, I have had a healthy respect for electricity.

I wonder if some folks might think it sad that this is my only recollection of my father. I hope not, because it is an especially happy one to me. My dad loved me enough to educate me about a very real peril in my life, and the method he chose did the job as nothing else can do for a two year old. It is never easy for loving parents to discipline their children, and the old axiom really is often true that "This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you" (childrens' protests to the contrary). My father loved me enough to hurt me because he knew that the pain of discipline, in whatever form, is one of the greatest educators in our lives.

"Whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth" (Proverbs 3:12).

Note that it is the son of his delight whom the father like unto God chastens. It is also the son of his love. We do our children no favors by coddling wayward attitude or behavior, and Scripture even declares the startling truth that "he that spareth his rod hateth his son" (Proverbs 13:24). Most importantly, this speaks to the greater truth of how beloved we are in the heart of our God of "lovingkindness" and "tendermercies" (Psalm 25:6). Chastening is not our Heavenly Father's primary inclination toward us, nor is it one that He relishes. It is vitally necessary, however, because apart from God's loving willingness to "scourge every son whom he receiveth," none of us would faithfully walk with Him (Hebrews 12:6). We need both the rod and the embrace, and we can be sure that our journey along the path of righteousness will involve both.

God blessed me for a very short time with a father who loved me (and thankfully also, with a mother who loved me for a very long time). I am grateful, and whenever I seem to recall that smarting backside, I give thanks and smile the smile of having been the son of a loving father, "the son in whom he deligheth."

"Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
(Proverbs 22:15)

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