This. Guitar. Could. Be. Mine.
The little boy, all of five years old, stood near the back of the music store holding the six hundred dollar guitar he had just picked up from my repair rack. The paper tag that clung to one of the tuning keys by its string spun crazily in the breeze from the ceiling fan overhead, offering proof that it couldn’t be his.
It belonged to someone already. It could never be his.
Nevertheless, he repeated the words, since his mother hadn’t heard him the first time seemingly.
This. Guitar. Could. Be. Mine.
She had heard him. Before he added the please, she had heard him.
I was waiting for her to take action since the expensive guitar was actually in the young child’s hands. My every fiber screamed for me to do something about it. But, not wanting to frighten the boy, nor anger the mom, I sat quietly to see what she would do.
Surely, she would tell the boy to put the guitar down that instant. At the very least, she would walk back to where he stood strumming the strings of his new guitar lovingly and, taking it from his little hands, she would let him know firmly it would never be his.
She did neither.
“Here, honey. I got you some guitar picks. Oh, did you see the toys they have for you to play with up here?”
She bribed the child. Bribed him.
I understand. The method of child rearing has been in vogue for many years, perhaps from the dawn of time.
It’s easier to take the desire for things and shift it to other things than it is to say no. Saying no is difficult and there is usually unhappiness to follow. And, unhappiness is to be avoided at all costs it seems.
Besides, if you’re slick enough at the process, the child will believe the item you use as a bribe is his or her own idea and what they really want anyway.
Come to think about it, that is what happens eventually. Like a dickering flea-market vendor, the child learns to ask for the impossible, knowing he or she will receive something else of lesser value with almost no fuss at all.
It begins with the parent manipulating the child and winds up the other way around.
To be honest, I’m often happier if the parent is successful in this method, as well. No unhappiness is easier for innocent bystanders, too.
The price to be paid for such child-rearing will most likely not come due at my expense, but make no mistake, it will come due.
I wonder if the idea of offering consolation prizes is responsible for the current crop of folks who don’t believe that our Heavenly Father ever says no. They don’t believe He would ever discipline those He loves.
Being loved means being given everything we’ve ever wanted or asked for. They think.
You do know parents don’t give their five-year-old sons six hundred dollar guitars, right? They do give their children the opportunity to begin playing an age-appropriate instrument so that someday they may—may—be ready for such a guitar.
So it is to be in our lives. In obedience, we grow and mature. Faithfulness in small things leads to responsibility in larger things. (Matthew 25:21) Not as a bribe, but as evidence that our lives are guided by a loving Father, a Father who gives good gifts to His children.
He gives good gifts. Always. (James 1:17)
Can I make this as clear as possible? Many of the things we claim as ours can never actually be ours.
This is a hard truth. Hard.
Still, I’ve heard different words from the lips of more men—followers of Christ, if you will— than I can count.
God wants you to be happy they say.
Content. He wants us to be content. (1 Timothy 6:6)
But, it says it in our Constitution—We are endowed by our Creator with rights. There it is!
The pursuit of happiness.
Godliness. He wants us to pursue Godliness. The psalmist tells us if we delight in our God, He will give us our heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4)
Ah. I’ve made a mistake, haven’t I?
Look at it! There! He will give us everything our heart desires. Everything does have a tag with my name on it. Everything I want.
You’ll pardon me if I point out just one little thing, won’t you?
He will. He will give us everything our heart desires. But first, our heart has to desire Him more than anything else.
And, as our old friend, Mr. Shakespeare, would say—There’s the rub.
Jesus said it just as clearly, centuries later than the psalmist. My words will live in you and you will dwell (find all of life’s essentials) in me. Then, you may ask whatever you want in my name and you will have it. (John 15:7)
Godliness brings contentment.
Following Christ completely turns our heart’s desires completely inside out.
I’m confident there’s no Maserati with a tag bearing my name—no huge bank account either. It doesn’t matter.
There have been good gifts all along the way. Some have even been material things.
Most have not.
His good gifts aren’t just good for me. They were never intended to be held close and hoarded, but shared and given away freely.
His gifts don’t inspire greed and covetousness, but love and contentment.
It seems a good place to dwell.
I’d like to live here for awhile.
It is better to be godly and have little
than to be evil and rich.
For the strength of the wicked will be shattered,
but the Lord takes care of the godly.
(Psalm 37:16-17 ~ NLT)
“They have succeeded in accumulating a greater mass of objects, but the joy in the world has grown less.”
(from The Brothers Karamazov ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky ~ Russian novelist ~ 1821-1881)
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
(Luke 12:15 ~ NASB)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.