Today in class (yes, I am still taking language class!), we studied several local parables. The one that stuck out is the one at the top of this article. The basic meaning in English is “if you don’t work hard when you are young and vigorous, you will suffer hardship when you are old.”
Parables are, by definition, short and packed with meaning well beyond the words. This parable has been used to motivate generation after generation of children to work hard and make good decisions so they won’t be tortured with with an awful life in the future. As my teacher put it, “if you waiste your youth, it’s too late! You can’t do anything about it when you are old.”
I like Chinese parables, I really do. The Chinese are particularly blessed with a rich heritage of parabolic literature that we in the west can only look at and marvel. This one, like all of them, has a good motivation towards a valuable life lesson. Push children towards excellence and they will become good and happy adults.
I was raised in a disciplined household, for which I am grateful. Excellence was expected in academics and in basic life manners and behavior. It was expected that anything I participated in, I would put forth my best effort. As an adult, I am grateful to my parents for instilling this in me as a child. It has served me well in life.
However, one of the many things I love about the Gospel of Christ is that IT IS NEVER TOO LATE. If you have 20 years or one hour left of life, you can still live in a meaningful and impactual way. Christ came and has provided redemption today. There is no need to fret over the past. Sure we can advise others not to follow errant paths that we might have come down. This is wisdom. However, it is never “too late”, as this parable infers, to live a healthy, meaningful, satisfying, and purposeful life.
Train your children up well. However, never doubt the usefulness of today and the power of the Gospel to transform a wretched past into a beautiful future, no matter what it is.
You can love somone today. You can serve someone today. You can help someone today. That is never a waiste and is completely irrespective of your past, no matter how grim it might have been.
Lord Jesus, thank you for a legacy of discipline and parents that were there to provide structure for me as a child. Thank you, much more so, for the second, third, and fifthieth chances that you have given me (and everyone) through the Gospel. Thank you that you take my mistakes and redeem them for your (and my) future good.