Fools show their annoyance at once,
but the prudent overlook an insult.
An honest witness tells the truth,
but a false witness tells lies.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips endure forever,
but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
- Proverbs 12:16-19
“If you have kids, then I’m sure you’ve felt the frustration of having things ruined. Maybe you’ve experienced grape juice on the carpet, scratches on hardwood floors, permanent ink on your favorite shirt, or something similar.
“My daughter, Ashley, once went up the stairway with a crayon putting tick marks on our freshly painted walls with each step she took. Then she dragged the crayon all the way down the hall to her room. Yes, I said freshly painted walls. I wanted to pull my hairs out by the roots!
“I’d like to be a mom who handles mishaps and messes with a graceful, ‘That’s okay, dear.’ But I’m wired with firecrackers un my blood. So I have the choice to let the Holy Spirit rein me in. This means getting into God’s Word every day and praying for Him to help me display grace, patience, and self-control when I want to the exact opposite. …
“While visiting my husband’s parents, I took a liking to a writing desk in their home. I mentioned to Art’s mom that I’d love to have it if she ever decided to get rid of it. But she was quick to tell me that she would never get rid of it because it was priceless.
“She unlatched the fold-down lid to reveal what made this desk so special to her. In a little boy’s handwriting, the letters A-R-T were scratched onto the surface. His name was forever craved onto her desk.
“She admitted to being angry with Art when this happened years and years ago, but now the scratches that seemed to have ruined her desk are priceless treasures to cherish and remember. The desk had been ruined … for good.
“And I pray that remembering this story, this perspective change, makes me ruined for good as well.”
- Lysa TerKeurst, Craving God
Before our younger son became the musician that he is today, he loved artwork. Once he painted the walls with… Let’s say it was disgusting, but that was nothing compared to his work in crayons. I learned quickly that the wax in crayons repels any effort to paint over the marks, and he did not draw tick marks. He created a mural. I had to sand down the hallway of our house until all the crayon marks were gone and half the paper that covers the sheet rock, put a prime coat down, and then two coats of paint on top of that.
But little Destructo was not finished. He broke almost every hand-carved German Christmas ornament that we had, even the snowflakes, cut from a single layer of veneer. (In looking for any remnants for the photo, I found the last surviving snowflake. I was convinced that there were no more.) I still hung them on the tree once they became five sided or four sided or even three sided. After that, it was just pathetic. He broke his toys and some of his brother’s toys and brought the pieces to me and grunted, as if I could fix anything.
While not yet three, his major goal in life was the cuckoo clock in the great room. We knew his tendencies. The great room had a vaulted ceiling, and I mounted the cuckoo clock, purchased in Triberg, Germany, between ten and eleven feet from the floor. The pine cones that provided the weights to operate the clock had three-days of operation in the length of chains, but we pulled the rings down each day to keep both ends of the chain out of Destructo’s reach. My wife had to use a step stool to reach the rings to reset the mechanism, but I could reach it on my tiptoes unless I waited too long, long enough for Destructo to reach the pines cones.
I suppose we forgot to reset the clock one night, because I slept a little late the next morning. Upon waking, I found him chewing on the brass pine cones, and a pile of brass wires underneath the clock that would never tick again, nor cuckoo, nor would the wood workers ever saw with the two-man saw or cut with the ax. It was bizarre. Each link of the three brass chains (clock, cuckoo, and animation mechanism chains) had pulled straight, no longer a link, but a wire. Not one single link of the chains remained. We kept all the parts in case we found someone who knew how to fix it. When I worked on the NASA project, one of my friends claimed to be a master at repairing any type of clock. He repaired a couple of clocks for the people in our office. I asked if he could repair our cuckoo clock. He said that he had repaired several. When he saw what was wrong, he said he’d rather die than try to fix it. I gave him the clock in case he needed spare parts.
So, when Lysa TerKeurst talked of ruined forever, I understood. Sadly, I also understand the tendency of being wired with firecrackers in my blood. I like that description. I may use it again, but the description of her mother-in-law’s desk makes you think whether the frustration, the angst, the rage was worth it. I wonder if I should have kept the clock as a bit of wood carving art. It may be 4:10 all the time, but even the clock would be on time twice each day.
And while we are on the subject of the word “ruined,” in the South it is pronounced “Rurnt,” one of the few words my wife cannot seem to pronounce. That and a local river in Pittsburgh, the Monongahela. She cannot say that either. I have told her that saying ‘rurnt’ is like the river Ruhr in Germany with an “nt” at the end. I think she just toys with me.
Our son grew out of his destructive phase, or so we thought. He wished to destroy himself in college until his friends drug him to a revival at a church camp and our son met Jesus. These days, he’s even pleasant to talk to, occasionally, when the wind blows in the right direction. … I wrote that snide remark in hopes that he reads it and knows that I am just kidding.
So, before I give him the last snowflake, I want him to know that he is special to me. The years of destruction are behind us, and like Lysa TerKeurst, I pray that my frustration over the things of this world would be the one thing that is, as my MawMaw might say, rurnt fer good (ruined for good).
And we might all be rurnt fer good if Jesus had not died for us on the cross.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.