Jingy loves to play, and she would let our then-five-year-old daughter do just about anything to her. The dog was probably married to half of the stuffed toys in our house, and she was subjected to all kinds of costumes.
But don’t let anyone tell you that Jingy was a prissy, girly dog. In fact, she was an outdoorsman and a hunter. Jingy was constantly on the lookout for wildlife, climbing on the furniture for a good view of the outdoors. And when she was turned loose in the back yard, Jingy was relentless, bounding around like Tigger across the lawn if effort to pounce on something, anything that might mistakenly cross her path. She caught five turtles, one year, that we knew of. She would have captured that rabbit if it would cross into the fence. She would have ripped a squirrel to pieces if she could figure out how to climb a tree. And if she could fly, the birds wouldn’t be safe either. In fact, there was a week when she tried to bring down a deer.
Yes, Jingy had targets she couldn't reach. She wanted the things she couldn't have. And as much as she tried, she just couldn't achieve her goals on her own. The only things she could catch were turtles.
In a way, we’re all a little bit like Jingy. We’re all striving, pushing, pulling, and shooting for a target that we can’t reach on our own.
But sadly, some are like Jingy in a different way. Some people would be satisfied with catching a turtle. Some of us are satisfied with immediate gratification, instant entertainment, a quick feel-good moment, a fast pick-me-up from a hard day at work.
Some of us want a religion that spends us emotionally, something that tugs at our heartstrings, but not something that we have to work at, or think about. Not even something that we need to take with us when we leave the worship assembly. Some tend to simply want a pep talk from the preacher, a couple of catchy tunes from the singers, and an emotional prayer from the elders.
Genesis 25:27ff relates to us the account of Esau coming in tired from a day of hard work in the field. For a little rest and food, Esau forfeits his birthright. Esau makes a choice and sets in motion a series of consequences. He is like many people today. He has a level of mediocre interest in the patriarchal promises. He is willing to trade instant gratification for the patriarchal birthright.
Our brother, Jason Jackson, explained that the point for the Christian is that “if we live for the moment, with a light appreciation for the Christian inheritance and the blood that bought it, we can suffer terrible loss. There’s no use for tears, no chance for repentance, after death and judgment.”
We could go into lots of other accounts of wasteful living and living for the moment. Obviously, the prodigal, or wasteful, son in Luke 15:11ff comes to mind – another example of a person living for the moment, not being able to see past his own nose to find greater riches in righteous living. We might talk about the rich young ruler, in Luke 18:18ff, who can’t let go of his current pleasures in exchange for treasure in heaven.
OK, sometimes there are middle-range advantages that get disregarded, as well. It’s not just a trade between instant gratification and eternal life; there is also a not-so-instant future for us in this life – not to mention the effect we have on future generations.
Recall the Harry Chapin song, Cat’s in the Cradle, from 1974. It’s meaningful in this conversation because it illustrates what we as parents treat as important today, a worldly investment, being traded for what is considered important in the future for our children.
In the first couple of verses of the song, the dad says he has planes to catch, bills to pay, and things to do as excuses for not investing time in his son. He keeps promising to “get together” with his son sometime in the future.
All along, the kid tells his dad, “I’m gonna be like you, Dad. You know I’m gonna be like you.”
Then remember what happens when the boy grows up and goes to college, and then has a family of his own.
Just when you think the catchy tune is going to reveal a happy ending, Chapin takes the song in this way, singing, “it occurred to me he'd grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.”
Maybe we all need to step back from the way we do things from time to time, and gain a little perspective in our lives. Are we living in the moment? Are we giving up heaven for a little entertainment now? Are we investing in the future by throwing our time and money in all the right places? Are our goals set with eternity and righteousness in mind?
Like our dog, Jingy, we may be settling for turtles when we could be reaching for squirrels.