July 17, 2009
Backing Off, Part One
by Charles R. Swindoll
Kids are nutty.
Some friends of ours in Texas have two little girls. The younger child is constantly on the move, rarely winding down by bedtime. So the nightly affair has become something of a familiar routine. A story from her favorite book. A drink of water. A prayer. A song. Her doll. Another drink of water. A kiss. A hug. A third sip of water. A trip to the bathroom. A warning. Another kiss. You know, the whole bit.
One night her dad decided he'd be Mr. Nice Guy, the epitome of patience and tolerance. He did it all. Not once did he lose his cool. When Miss Busybody finally ran out of requests, her daddy slipped out of the room, heaved a sigh of relief, and slumped into his favorite chair by the fireplace. Before he could stretch out and relax, however, there was a piercing scream from the jitterbug's room. Startled, he dashed down the hall and rushed to her bedside. Great tears were rolling down the little girl's face.
"What's wrong? What happened?"
"I burnt my tongue."
Baffled, he tried again, "You what?"
"I burnt my tongue!" she yelled.
"How in the world did you do that?" he asked.
"I licked my night-light."
That really happened. She couldn't control her curiosity. She simply had to discover how it would feel to lick that little thing that glowed so warmly and serenely by her bed. Rude was her awakening to the fact that lights are strictly for lighting . . . not licking. And tongues are made for tasting . . . not testing. You and I realize that the best thing our little friend could have done was to stay in bed, keep her tongue to herself, and allow the light to fulfill its appointed function.
But she didn't---and she got burned.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, Solomon, the wise, passes along to us a list of various types of "appointed times" on earth. Among them he mentions
a time to heal . . . a time to shun embracing . . . a time to give up as lost . . . a time to be silent
I see in these words of counsel one strong undercurrent of advice: BACK OFF! It is often wise to relax our intensity, refuse to force an issue, allow nature to take its course, "let sleeping dogs lie." Backing off, says Solomon, provides opportunity for healing to occur, opportunity for perspective to break through the storm clouds of emotion and illuminate a difficult situation with a fresh understanding.
When the time is right, things flow very naturally, very freely. To rush or force creates friction-scars that take years to erase. Take it from one who has learned this difficult lesson the hard way---keep a tight bridle on your tongue, relax, and settle for a good night's sleep. Otherwise, you're going to get pushy, you're going to get caught with your tongue in the wrong place . . . and you're going to get burned.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.