I am able to go for a walk six mornings a week, four days with Teri and two days with her father. We walk roughly the same route every day. Strolling week after week along the same path gives me the opportunity to observe the yards we pass by.
It is amazing the variance in people’s lawns. Some are beautiful, lush, green yards; then there are those that look quite nice. Others could use improvement. Finally, there are yards that are complete disasters. They look absolutely terrible!
I’m thinking of one appalling lawn in particular. It is on the corner so you can see both the front and back yards. In the spring I noticed clover lightly scattered around the yard. Over time the clover spread like wild fire and finally took over the whole yard. From a distance the lawn looked pretty good, but as you drew closer it became obvious that it was all clover rather than grass. When the summer heat came, the clover died. That would be good, except the clover had already totally killed the grass. Then the homeowners didn’t have to mow (not that they did much before) because nothing was growing in the bare dirt except a few low weeds.
“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 24:30-34).
The above verses tell me that I have the opportunity to learn a great deal from observing others. We try to take advantage of this in the Maxwell home. I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to learn from someone else’s mistakes. “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge” (Proverbs 19:25). I don’t mind identifying with the simple if it means I can avoid a trip to the woodshed.
Over the months as I observed that lawn, I was struck with how similar it was to some aspects of raising children. First, I never looked at clover as a threat to my lawn. As a matter of fact, in some ways I have always liked clover. I have fond childhood memories of summer play times in fields of clover. Clover hasn’t seemed like a weed to me, and it isn’t ugly like many weeds. Maybe that was the initial attitude of the homeowner whose lawn was destroyed by clover.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a new or old yard, clover still presents a danger when you are trying to grow healthy, beautiful grass. In the same way, whether our children are young or old, there are situations for which we must keep our eyes open. I think most of us will notice recognizable weeds that sprout up in the lives of our children. What about those things that appear innocent, just like that clover? Will we spot areas that have negative impact on our children, perhaps ones that the world (and even the church these days) calls good and beneficial? There are certain harmful behaviors and activities, innocent in appearance that our children may take up. By the time we become concerned, they are much more difficult to address.
Let’s see what Scripture says. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Paul was warning Timothy to flee youthful lusts and replace them with righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Many would quickly recognize youthful lusts as being immoral lusting for the opposite sex, pride, and the desire to be in control. There may be others, but there is one in particular that most would not put in the category of youthful lusts.
In 2 Timothy 3:2-5 Paul describes evil men in the end times. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” As you read that list it should be pretty obvious how harmful most of those listed “weeds” are. However, if you reread the list, you should spot some “clover.” What about those who are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”?
Look at the company “lovers of pleasures” is keeping in the list: lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection (sodomites), trucebreakers, false accusers (liars), incontinent (no self-control), fierce, despisers of those that are good (they love evil), traitors, heady, highminded, LOVERS OF PLEASURES more than lovers of God. How many Christian parents do you know who are as concerned and careful that their children don’t become “lovers of pleasure” as there are parents concerned that their children don’t become sodomites? Raising a child who is a “lover of pleasure” (or being one ourselves) is very serious and should not be taken lightly. Then why is it not even questioned or rebuked in Christian circles?
“Lovers of pleasure” so characterizes our society. Billions and billions of dollars are spent each year on seeking greater thrills, chills, excitement, and fun. Why? It is pleasurable! Movies, automobile races, football, baseball, soccer, hockey, a myriad of other sporting activities, alcohol, and drugs—to name only a few—all produce pleasure of sorts. In our area, when there is a Kansas City Chiefs game, even the professing Christians dawn their red apparel. It isn’t because they are trying to relate to the other fans with the hope of winning them to Christ; it is because the excitement of the game is pleasurable.
So what does one do about clover? Some (the world) let the clover take over. I read how a Canadian group actually promotes clover lawns. Many take that approach with pleasure. “Why fight it? Embrace it!”
For our family, we take “clover” very seriously. I’m careful what types of fun our family enjoys. The children ride bikes and have wholesome toys and healthy play (less as they grow older).
There are certain things we just don’t do. For example, we would not even consider going to a movie theater, a professional sporting event of any kind, or amusement parks. For us, there is nothing redeeming about any of those activities, and much that is negative (that is for another Dad’s Corner). In addition, there is the potential if we participate in those areas of creating the intense appetite for more. Please don’t get me wrong; we have fun as a family, and much laughter is heard in the Maxwell home. However, it is the desire of my heart to raise children who are “lovers of God” far more than “lovers of pleasure.”
We would all do well to treat pleasure as the dangerous drug that it is. Yes, God did give us the ability to enjoy pleasing things, but Satan is the one who wants us to take pleasure in nonprofitable things. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). How’s your lawn?