You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink

The twelfth century adage is still true; you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. While people are not horses, they can be quite contrary, and, “as stubborn as a mule.” Oh they will go along when you hand them a cube of sugar, or a crisp fresh shiny red apple, but when the goodies are gone, and they don’t get their way, “Katy bar the door!”

None of us want to spoil the child, so we instruct and discipline our children in love when they are making obvious mistakes or become intentionally rebellious. We sit them in time out or take something away from them to get their attention. As God fearing parents, we work hard to follow the Bible’s plan of instruction and attempt to not provoke our children to wrath. They have a choice to obey, and do what they are asked, or they can suffer the consequences for their disobedience. Set your line in the sand early, and stick to it, because a child wants and needs boundaries.

As children grow, the challenges increase. As we continue to bring up our children in the way they should go, they begin to make decisions on their own. Sometimes they make choices which require tough parental decisions about discipline, and sometimes there are outbursts, and childlike tantrums, and the all too familiar, “that’s not fair!” Even demonstrating Christ-like love, while parenting, will not guarantee everyday being a holiday.

Before you know it, the time comes to teach the children to drive. We give them specific instructions about the car, all the important vehicle safety equipment, show examples of the speed and stop signs, and finally begin the practice of driving. At some point they will begin to drive on their own and all you can do is pray they make the right decisions while driving. When they break the rules, speed, or have a fender bender, you can take their keys for a period of time to help get their attention. We sometimes need to remind our teenagers driving is a privilege and not a right.

Some young people seem driven to adulthood. They know exactly what they want to do with their life; they keep their head down, and diligently work to that end. The lines of communication are clear and open, always willing to share their next hope and dream. God is woven throughout their life, and no matter the circumstance, they seem to be a living testimony to Galatians 5:22-23. It says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

These young people, the real future of America, live the clean life right in the face of our country’s culture, and even the counter culture, saying with love to everyone, “I’m with Jesus.”

Some young people must be driven everywhere they go having lost the privilege to drive. Not only have they lost their license, they also seem lost on their daily journey. The only constant in their life is a turbulent rebellion which stirs up all the wrong conditions. Conditions like anger, bitterness, jealousy, hatred, and despair, push some young people to search for justice and fairness in a broken culture. We file lawsuits against our neighbors, cut drivers off in traffic, and curse those drivers who cut us off. Most important of all, no one tells them what to do! They look for happiness at the next party, and of course, “beer for their horses!”

So what is the source of all this rebellion? In Genesis 3 Satan asked Eve if God really said she must not eat fruit from any of the trees in the garden. Satan was disguised as a serpent, and surprisingly, this did not surprise Eve. It makes you wonder if animals may have originally spoken when they were first created. I remember cleaning off a table on our deck and hearing a creepy hissing sound. I looked in the direction of the sound and quickly made a lateral jump away from the two long snakes wrapped around the deck posts. Even Moses jumped backwards when God turned his staff into a snake. Anyway, it seems the serpent did not look or sound too scary to Eve.

Eve answered Satan, “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.” God said, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.” You can almost hear that slippery tongued devil, Satan, directing Eve’s eyes to the forbidden fruit. “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

We know the rest of the story. Reading the story over and over again, I noticed Satan’s strategy was to get her undivided attention, and to turn that attention away from God and onto the fruit of the tree. Satan confused, and then convinced Eve, that God did not have her best interest at heart. God places boundaries in our lives for our safety and protection. When we step over the boundaries there are always consequences. For Adam and Eve it cost them everything.

Here are some important lessons. It may only take one look, a glance in the wrong direction, and everything could be lost. Is there someone in your life offering you a bite of a crisp fresh shiny red apple, or driving you down the wrong roads? Maybe they have involved you in their sin? 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

God wants us to share His unconditional love with everyone. Our responsibility is to lead others to His Living Water; He will take care of the rest.

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