THE PICTURE Jon Hamilton
Every day, it shines over my shoulders. As if it possesses a light of itís own, the little photograph seems to beam at me from the bookshelf behind my desk, showering sunshine that splashes merrily from wall to wall. Itís warmth brightens the spirit of my office. At least for me.
Bright beaming smiles peer at me from an inflatable backyard pool. Little hands wave. Little noses wrinkle with playful grins. Itís a warm summer day spent spraying each other with the water hose, wriggling around making funny faces at mom and the camera. "Smile for Daddy!" Click.
Where did these little ones go? I hardly recognize them now. .
The swim mask is way too big. I can see a silly little grin peeking through. He doesnít seem to mind that the mask really isnít keeping any water out.
A roly-poly baby girl grins toothlessly from her big sisterís lap. This is much more fun than the bath.
Where was I on this day? No doubt I was very busy doing something very important. Iím sure its importance demanded I miss the pool day. It was so importantÖ. that I donít remember it now.
Of course I have the picture. No actual memory of these few fleeting moments, but a picture.
These beautiful faces that called me "Daddy" have all changed dramatically. The big sister holding that baby girl is now is an adult, a beautiful lady. Two others are teenagers. The baby girl is now getting her permanent teeth. None of them will ever again be the children of my picture.
Although it is outdated, this little picture will always shine brightly before me as I work.
It reminds me that everything is temporary. Even our joys do not endure.
Much less our sorrows.
It also reminds me of how little time I have to complete my most important task. Along with the joy my little picture brings, it also brings me the sober warning that I must not allow time to be wasted in selfish pursuits.
One of the worst curses God ever pronounced upon disobedient men was when He declared that backslidden, pleasure-seeking Israel would begin to sacrifice her own children. How sad it is to see America rediscover this curse. (Some say God will judge America because of abortion. I rather tend to think abortion IS Godís judgement upon America.) Like Israel, we are under a curse to sacrifice our children to our idols. . Today America is sacrificing her children to idols of convenience, money, and pleasure.
Unfortunately, this darkened thinking extends far beyond the abortion issue. It affects our entire cultureís attitude toward children. God forbid that we, as people of the Light, should fall before the same idols and absorb our cultureís attitudes toward children. We must be different.
Psalm 127 declares "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." (Emphasis mine)
Repeatedly in the scriptures, God gave children to those he wanted to bless. How this conflicts with our modern American attitudes towards children! Popular culture insists children are a burden to be put off till as late as possible. Children have become an acquisition, to be acquired after the nice car, beautiful home and prestigious career. Otherwise, they are a crimp in your style, a headache, a financial liability. Sometimes when I overhear parents complaining about their children, I want to physically shake them into spiritual reality: These are the blessing of God! Wake up! Enjoy his blessing today!
A wise man once told me that the only things we get to "take with us" from this life, are the lives we lead to faith in Jesus Christ. Proverbs 17:6 tells us "Children's children are a crown to the aged.." How much more an eternal crown are those children sent into everlasting life? By our faithful example in day to day living, by teaching our children to follow Jesus Christ, we store up the greatest treasures of two worlds!
I have heard a great deal of modern teaching about the "blessing of Abraham". Most of it has centered on Abrahamís financial success. But did you ever notice one of the main reasons God chose Abraham in the first place? Genesis 18:19 reveals Godís heart "For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just."
Abraham was chosen because God knew he would teach his children! Godís relationship with Abraham would endure beyond his short lifetime! A family line would know God, generation to generation. The eternal God sees beyond the brief vapor that is our life, and asks that we make passing the faith our greatest priority. To do so invites His blessing!
So from the shelf it calls me, this little picture. It sing-songs a merry tune over my shoulder, and from itís perch I hear little voices giggle and whisper "Daddy".
Time to go home.
Thereís still much unfinished business in this office of mine, but it will wait till tomorrow. The faces in my little pictureÖ. will not.