I’m deeply grateful for the counsel of my father and mother as I was growing up. Many of the blessings I enjoy today are a result of wise choices they guided me into as a young person.
With Father’s Day soon coming up, I’ve been sharing some of the principles my father instilled in me that have been foundational in my life. One of the themes of his life and of our upbringing was the simple concept that “little things matter.”
My dad frequently emphasized the importance of seemingly minor choices, decisions, and habits—things that on the face of it may appear to be insignificant. Those “little things” include such choices as what time we go to bed at night and get up in the morning; what we eat, when, and how much; how we respond to irritating people or circumstances; how we spend our “free time, how we spend our money . . . and on and on.
I learned from my dad that even choices and actions that seem trivial have consequences, and easily become habits. Of course, this can work both ways, for good and for bad.
My dad often reminded us that bad habits are easy to make and fall into, but not so easy to break. Good habits are harder to make, but have enduring value through the course of a lifetime. We had these conversations when I was a child, then when I was a teen. And now that I’m in my fifties, I am more keenly aware than ever of how right he was! Most of the wise habits I have today are the long-term fruit of choices I made as a young woman.
Unfortunately, as a younger woman, I also made unwise choices in some areas that seemed inconsequential from my perspective. As a result, I struggle today with some habits that are really hard to break. I wish I had listened more carefully and heeded more consistently this challenge about choices! Many of our habits as adults are the result of little, individual choices we made when we were nine or nineteen or twenty-nine—things we didn’t think were such a big deal.
Let me give you an example. I made a lot of poor choices in relation to diet and exercise when I was younger. I practically lived in a fast food restaurant in my twenties. I didn’t think such a “little thing” as my eating habits really mattered.
But now as a middle-aged woman who struggles to practice self-control and discipline when it comes to caring for my body, I wish I had established more healthy habits when I was twenty!
God’s Word is clear that we reap what we sow. Every act, every choice we make, at any age, has consequences.
Every act, every choice, sows a seed. And it will reap a harvest. The challenging thing is that the harvest isn’t usually immediate. I planted a lot of seeds in my earlier years. By God’s grace and thanks to the influence and guidance of wise parents, I planted a lot of good seeds, the results of which have become more apparent in recent years. But I also planted some unhealthy seeds and am now wrestling with some of the consequences of those choices.
My dad used to say it this way: “You are what you have been becoming. And you will be down the road what you are becoming now.”
The good news is, even if you’re older and have made choices you regret, there’s hope! That’s what grace is for. That’s what the cross is about—the only means by which the losses occasioned by our sin can be redeemed and we can be made “new creatures.” By the power of the Holy Spirit, those bad habits can be broken and we can walk in a way that is pleasing to God.
What seeds do you regret sowing when you were younger? What choices are you making today that could become a pattern you will regret further down the road? How can you start fresh today, by God’s grace, and make choices that will produce good fruit for His glory?