Daily Devotionals

Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life

Devotional: July 12th

The First No

Raising children is an exasperating endeavor to say the least. Regardless of Dr. Benjamin Spock's volumes of work, or that of myriad others, there is truly no definitive work on raising children. That is why a pregnant mother-to-be is referred to as "expecting". Andy Griffith, the comedian, once remarked that the first child lurks, indicating that the baby may be ready to sneak up suddenly and be born or just kind of hang around for awhile.

But when the baby comes is when the real challenge starts. What do you do with this little wrinkled package of flesh and still forming bones? Most people get the basics very quickly. You feed it, change it and clean it up after feeding it and before changing it. Then what? Then comes the tough stuff. Once the baby gets past the "I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it" stage (roughly birth to around six months) you are faced with a child with a growing understanding which needs nurtured.

Surprisingly, the first word a baby truly understands is not, "Dada" or "Mama." The first word a baby truly understands is, "No." The reason? It's the first word they hear with a reinforcing action. All this time their needs and desires have been met. Now, they reach for something and they are denied it with the word "No." Their cries and protests are no longer met with their personal satisfaction. They begin to understand the concept that everything they see is not necessarily for them.

Maturity is not really the process of getting older as much as it is the process of understanding the concept of "No." Those who have matured have grasped that everything is not theirs for the taking. This leads to maturity in financial matters, interpersonal relationships and work ethics. It forms a road map for life with another human being as self-denial is at the very core of a husband and wife's healthy marriage. But it is difficult.

It all began at an odd place. The Beginning. When God finally got around to making man, He knew He had made a creature with a need to understand "No." "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.' " Genesis 2:15-17 God made man and the first thing He had to tell man was, "No." "No" is a pretty good word. Jesus once said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6 Yep, "No" is a pretty good word.

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