Chocolate Pie Or China?
Hudson Taylor was missionary to China for over 50 years in the mid to late 1800’s. At the end of his life, he said, “I never made a sacrifice.” He said this though his entire ministry was wrought with personal heartache. Four of his eleven children died during his lifetime. Two different wives died. He was constantly battling sickness and disease. The Chinese did not begin to respond to him until years after he arrived. All of his belongings were stolen. A house he lived in burned to the ground. His best friend on the field was arrested. On and on. Yet he said, “I never made a sacrifice.”
What kind of person says that? Better yet, what kind of a dad breeds a son like that?
As I was preparing for a biographical talk I gave for Awana Go! on Taylor, I came across this scenario recounting an event of young Hudson’s childhood:
“James and Amelia Taylor loved their children and, like all doting parents, they enjoyed giving them little treats on occasion. But once in a while, when Amelia brought a dessert to the table for her family, James would say, ‘Who will see if they can do without today?’ He explained it to the children this way:
By and by, you will have to say ‘No’ to yourself when we are not there to help you,
and very difficult you will find it when you want a thing tremendously. So let
us try to practice now, for the sooner you begin, the stronger will be the habit.”
Wow. Haven’t tried that one with Luke and Seth lately! Come to think of it, haven’t tried with myself lately either!
Granted, you and I can argue all day about whether or not this tactic will ‘work’ for our kids. I get that. But I do find it interesting that Hudson’s father was obviously very intentional to try to help his children master their appetites early in their lives. He knew that as children it would be sweets (okay, and adults too!). But he also knew that as they grew older, other appetites would develop. If they mastered the ‘dessert appetite’ now, they would be more able to master the other appetites later. James Taylor taught his children self-denial.
This reminded me of a Proverb tucked away in chapter 23.
Proverbs 23:19-21 says, “Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”
Wow. Do you hear what the father is telling his son: “Direct your heart now, son! Don’t give in to eating a lot of food! It will lead you to a life of caving into your appetites! It will drive you to poverty and slumber due to laziness! It is a heart issue, son! Learn to master your appetites now!”
I’ve never looked at it this way until recently. But, perhaps James Taylor and the author of Proverbs are on to something. Perhaps if we learn, at an early age, to master the ‘small’ appetites, the ‘bigger’ (more dangerous) appetites will be easier to deal with. Or, at least, easier to recognize and ‘attack.’
Hudson never made a sacrifice. . . or so he thought. Turning down a piece of chocolate cake at age 5 led to turning down of the easy life in England for the souls of China at age 55.
Father, please grant me wisdom.
What do you, more ‘seasoned’ fathers think? Any further wisdom in this regard for dads eager to learn?