Another from the archives…
Yep, when I was a kid I wasn’t “Smokey’s Friend” – I played with matches. Never did we burn down a forest nor even a house or anything we shouldn’t. But we played with matches. And gun powder, fireworks, power tools, firearms, airguns, slingshots, bicycles, machetes, axes, lead based paint – etc.
And yet, we grew up. All our appendages were intact (in spite of that one incident where we re-enacted a knife fight from a Louis L’Amour novel and someone got their fingers cut) and our hearing wasn’t too badly damaged (I’m only deaf in one ear but can still sometimes hear out of the other – don’t tell my wife) and the only damage to our eye sight was genetic. We rode bicycles without helmets. We played soccer without pads. We played volleyball in the street. We paddled canoes without lifejackets. We climbed trees and chopped them down. OK – THEY climbed the tree and I chopped it down). Skinnydipping, fishing, bee hunting, wasp nest capturing, campfire building, lead smelting, gun building – all these and more were part of our lives. And we lived and grew up and became reasonably stable, sane, productive citizens.
We can kill our own dinner, as well as skin it and cook it. We can change a tire – or an engine. We can wire a house, run the plumbing, dig a well, build a wall. We can plant a garden, cook a meal, change a diaper, discipline a child, educate a child, train a dog, butcher a goat. We can find an egg, set a hen, castrate livestock, build a fence, change the oil, lube a bike, repair an innertube, load a cartridge. And all these things we learned as kids.
We also learned to say “Yes, ma’am.” “Yes, sir.” and call adults “Mr.” or “Mrs.” or “Uncle” or “Aunt”. We played “Kick the can” and “Hide and Seek” and “Red Rover, Red Rover” and “Barrage” (our own variation of “dodge ball”) Chores were done. School work also. God’s word was memorized and passed on to younger kids.
We sharpened knives. Killed, skinned and roasted birds (over the campfire). We chased bats, caught, cleaned and ate piranhas. Swam with piranhas. Played with snakes and tarantulas. Slingshot, knife and a sack of smooth pebbles were our daily companions. We wrestled. We fought. We stood up for each other. We competed with each other.
We lived free – safe in the guidelines set by our parents. No, it wasn’t a matter of “Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” It was a matter of “Remember who’s son you are.” and the knowledge that we should never cause harm to another nor another’s property. We were taught honor, love for God and respect for our fellow man. We were taught right from wrong. We were taught to think.
And I feel sorry for today’s children. Raised with a long list of “safety” equipment and “things not to do” because “someone might get hurt”. The scars on my body give testimony to “Stupid should hurt” and also to “bodies heal”. Our modern society tries to shield us from life. Why? I believe it’s because they believe that this life is all there is. They don’t believe in One Who is greater than us and One Who is preparing a place for those who love Him and obey His commandments. And thus they are bound by fear, tied down with chains of terror – terror of losing that which we all must lose someday. Our bodies WILL die. Life WILL kill you – sooner or later – it’s inevitable. HOW you live your life says a lot about who you are. Are you living life suffocated by fear? Or do you live life in the knowledge that if we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness that He will provide for us and protect us along the way?
Love of God and His ways gives us freedom. Fear not those or that which can kill only your body. Fear Him Who has power over physical death and Who will either welcome us to a beautiful new home or Who will send us away from His Presence forever. That fear is healthy. It’s just like that admonishment of old – “Remember who’s son you are.” That sentence alone was enough to keep me on the right path, not from a morbid fear of some punishment but rather the fear of letting down my father.
Who’s child are you? Don’t forget. And it’s OK to play with matches – but use your head and play carefully.