Week two of summer fun, life is pretty much unrecognisable to the more structured routine of term time. We go to bed later, we lie in longer, we eat more junk, probably we don’t have set meal times. I’m probably my own worst enemy and, because of my relaxed attitude over the summer break, cause my kids have the big meltdown at the end of August getting ready for back to school. Let’s just say I’ll not be making Mum of the Year. However, this summer I have needed to be a bit more disciplined because Joshua is due to sit his transfer exams for a secondary school in November. We have had to set a study timetable throughout the summer break. Our agreement was that it would be forty minutes reading a day with test practice papers twice a week on Monday and Wednesday with a short, daily ten minute quiz activity. A schedule I believed to be pretty lenient considering the amount of work he would be used to in a school day.
On Wednesday, after collecting Joshua from football camp, I stopped off to do a little message and, because Terri is my name and procrastination is my game, I sat down for five minutes to chat with a couple of friends; five minutes turned into ten. I was trying to gee myself on, with Joshua perched on my knee I made the statement, I better get this one home as he has a test paper to do today because its Wednesday. As he pushed his bottom lip out, he started pleading his case on why he should be excused from doing his test paper on this occasion. The main was that he had earned some FIFA points doing chores and he was desperate to get home and spend time playing FIFA on his playstation.
I’ll admit I’m a bit of a softie when it comes to my children’s pleasure, so I offered him a deal. I offered that if he did two of the small quizzes on the computer app I had bought to help him, I would excuse him this once but there would no exceptions next week and I didn’t want to hear any excuses. He pushed his hand towards me for a playful handshake to seal the deal quickly before I could change my mind. The boy is wise.
I turned to my friend and said, “see Joshua doesn’t even think about the consequences of his deal in the future. All he cares about is the here and now.” To which she replied with a quote from Levi Lusko, “that’s because now yells longer but later last longer.. and ain’t that the truth.
We all want things without having to wait for them; we live in a culture of instant gratification. Joshua is not alone in not completely considering the after effects of an instant decision. I know that I’m just as guilty of this as the next one. We now live in a society that is growing more and more accommodating of this. Take, for example, buying things online. We have amazon prime to get things to us sooner. Gone are the days of waiting a week after a cliff hanger ending to an your favourite series because now we can watch them back to back for hours on end. But how could this be harmful, like seriously who are we hurting with all this? Well my thinking is, it creates a pattern in our brain where we expect everything without waiting for it and when we do have to wait or are called to assess the consequences before diving into a big decision with lasting consequences, we just don’t.
In the Bible there is a well known story about twins Esau and Jacob. Jacob was born clutching his brother’s foot, which meant that he missed out on the firstborn privilege. The birthright meant position, power and wealth, not only would the firstborn take on the leadership of the family at the father’s death, with all the power and authority that came with that, but he would get double inheritance of what his twin Jacob would receive.
In the picture we get from the story Esau is a bit of a lads’ lad! Out in the field working hard, hunting and farming and doing lots of manly labour that didn’t require a lot of brain power, where on the other hand Jacob seem to be a bit of a mummy’s boy, did cooking and and hung out with Mum while Dad and Esau hunted in the wild. Don’t know about you, but I know what gig I would prefer?
The Bible tells us that one day Esau comes in from the fields so weak from hunger and sees that Jacob has cooked a wonderful bowl of stew. Esau in his desperation pleads with Jacob for a bowl of stew. Jacob sees this as an opportunity to exploit Esau in his weakness and offers to trade the bowl of stew for the birthright. It was actually totally legal to sell his birthright. Hunger had clearly clouded Esau’s judgement to the point that he really did believe he was going to die if he didn’t eat immediately and agreed to the ridiculous deal. He didn’t consider the lasting implications, he didn’t consider alternative methods of getting fed, he didn’t consider anything other than his overwhelming hunger and weakness.
““All right,” Jacob replied, “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.” “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” But Jacob said, “First you must swear that your birthright is mine.” So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.”
Genesis 25:31-34 NLT
Levi says in his book Swipe Right, there were two options on the table: would you like this meal right now or would you like to see God do great things through your life down the road. He gave up his inheritance for something that felt good for an evening.
Guess what, our enemy that’s the devil he wants to steal your inheritance, he doesn’t want you to receive your inheritance that God has for you so he is busy whispering in your ear. No need to wait, no one else is waiting, he says, just think how much fun it will be now. He says you don’t have a future to worry about, just live for the moment, be reckless, be carefree, he says DO IT NOW!! Well I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he is a big, fat, dirty rotten liar
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
John 10:10 NLT
Maybe for some that looks like not waiting for marriage to have an intimate relationship, maybe it looks like not saving up for those shoes and getting in more debt, maybe its partying hard at the weekend and missing church. Perhaps it’s just a case of not exercising self control in a heated discussion and letting your tongue loose with wicked words. All these not only have lasting consequences but these things can create a distance between you and God. But please don’t hear me wrong on this, God has enough grace and forgiveness to cover all these things, but we have to live with the lasting consequences. And they might look like an unexpected pregnancy with someone who is not committed to you and raising a child alone, or a split family, a mountain of suffocating debt and a load of out of date shoes, an empty bank account and a sore head with horror stories of bad choices under the influences of alcohol. Or the dissolve of a precious friendship or relationship,
But it doesn’t have to be this way, we have a choice. If we can expand our focus beyond the current moment’s desires or hunger, we can create the opportunity to build a better future, a future with less regret, less baggage, less suffering. We can go after the life God intended for us, the life we were designed for, the best life possible.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT