The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once had a discussion with a man who argued that children should not be given any religious training, but should be free to choose their own faith when they were old enough to decide for themselves. Coleridge later invited him into his garden. It seems our Mr Coleridge was a great poet but not a great gardener. “Do you call this a garden?” the visitor asked. “There are nothing but weeds here!”
“Well, you see,” Coleridge replied, “I did not wish to infringe upon the liberty of the garden in any way. I was just giving the garden a chance to express itself.”
Source: Reported in Daily Walk, March 28, 1992
Chaim Potok’s book Chosen tells the story of Danny Saunders, the son of a strict Hasidic Jew. For many years Danny’s father, though very human, never speaks to Danny, except when teaching him out of the Talmud. One day the mystery is revealed. Rabbi Saunders explains that God has blessed him with a brilliant son, a boy with a mind like a jewel. When Danny was 4 years old his father saw him reading a book and was frightened. The book described the suffering of a poor Jew, yet Danny enjoyed it!
“There was no soul in my 4-year-old Daniel, there was only a mind”
The rabbi cried to God “What have you done to me? A mind like this I need for a son? A heart I need for a son, a soul I need for a son, compassion…righteousness, strength to suffer and carry pain…”
So Rabbi Saunders followed an ancient Hasidic tradition and brought the boy up in silence, for then “in the silence between us he began to hear the world crying.”
Source: J. Stott, The Contemporary Christian pp119-120
In 1972 a two year old Chinese boy, Hu Jen-chuan, fell from a table and went into a coma. When he woke up after six days he was not able to talk or move. Like any parent, his mother, was terrible distressed. Yet her distress was multiplied by the fact that she could not afford to place him in a nursing home.
Instead she has cared for Hu Jen-chuan herself, and her care has shown the unfathomable depth of her mother-love. You see, because he is unable to move Hu Jen-chuan is liable to get terrible bed-sores. So for the past thirty years his mother has done the unbelievable – she has carried her son on her back. As of May 2002 Liu Kuei-lan was 65 years old and weighed 40 kilograms. Her son, now a grown man, weighed 82kg. On many occasions Liu has fallen and fractured bones while carrying her son. Yet she continues to carry him. When asked how she can do it her reply is simple: “he ain’t heavy, he’s my son.”
Source: reported in the Taipei Times May 11, 2002
A businessman who worked very long hours arrived home one evening to find his 7 year old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy?”
“Yeah?” replied the man.
“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?
“Well son, I don’t really think that’s any business of yours” the man said.
“Please daddy, please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.
“If I tell you, you must promise you won’t tell anybody else”
“I promise” said the little boy.
“Alright then” said his father. “I make $150.00 an hour.”
“Oh,” the little boy replied. He looked a little sad, then said “Daddy, may I borrow $20.00 please?”
His father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is so you can borrow some you can go straight off to bed!”
The little boy burst into tears and made his way to his room. After an hour or so the father had calmed down and went to his son’s room. “I’m sorry for being so hard on you earlier son. If you tell me what you wanted the $20 for and it’s a worthwhile thing I’ll think about giving it to you.”
The little boy ran across the room to his piggy bank and counted out all it’s contents, exactly $130.00.
“$130.00, that’s a lot of money son. Surely that’s enough for what you wanted to buy” said the father.
“Well with the $20 you’ll give me it will be” the little boy replied. “I’d like to buy an hour of your time.”
In 2001 Bob Reccord was the President of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. During an address to the New Orleans Baptist Seminary he told of how his commitment to ministry almost cost him his marriage. Bob was 29 years old at the time and he and his wife Cheryl had a four year old son and a newborn. Bob was also a “bi-vocational” pastor, working as a businessman and as National Director of Training for Evangelism Explosion. His business and pastoral work had him away from home for 33 weeks of the year.
Returning home from a trip he one day came in the door, put down his suitcase, and said excitedly to his wife, “Want to hear what God’s done?”
Cheryl, looked at him and said, “No,” then began to cry.
“You used to be an asset to this family” she said. “All you are now is an interruption to this family.” Cheryl went on to say that if things didn’t change, she and the children would leave him.
That episode shocked Bob Reccord to rethink his life and make some changes. To the students at New Orleans Baptist Seminary he made the very important point that it is easy for those with strong commitments to ministry to become distracted from what’s important – such as their marriages and families – not by evil things but by good things.
Source: Reported at BPNews.com, November 21, 2001