RITE OF PASSAGE: Rin Tin Tin decoder ring
My earliest TV-watching memories center around shows like “Howdy Doody,” “Sky King” and “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.” Enthralled when the new, one-eyed glowing box appeared in our living room, it didn’t take long for my brothers and me to develop a weekly schedule of must-see shows.
I loved “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” the story of a young orphan boy being raised by a group of soldiers. He had a pet German Shepherd by the name of Rin Tin Tin. I had listened to this show on the radio, but with a television in our home, I could now watch the weekly episodes. Soon, I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t another dog on the planet like Rin Tin Tin. One morning, as I was eating my cereal, I saw an ad. If you sent in a certain number of box tops, you would receive your own Rin Tin Tin decoder ring. You could use it to exchange secret messages with your friends.
I set about to get a Rin Tin Tin decoder ring for myself. For the next several months, I faithfully ate the only kind of cereal that would help me achieve my goal . . . Nabisco Shredded Wheat. (Years later, I found out that I am allergic to Shredded Wheat, but that is another story.) After obtaining enough box tops, I sent for my secret decoder ring.
Then came the agonizing weeks of waiting. To a young boy, a week is an eternity and a month is, well . . . unfathomable. Each day as I arrived home from school, I ran into the house, asking my mother if the ring had come. For days, the answer was “No.”
Then one day, it arrived: the long-awaited package. Opening it carefully, I began to discover the mysteries of the Rin Tin Tin decoder ring. The kit included a ring, a roll of small white paper about a quarter of an inch wide and a clear wax pencil. You wrote your secret message on the white strip of paper with the wax pencil and sent it to your friends. The recipient took the paper and inserted it into the Rin Tin Tin secret decoder ring, which contained a tiny ink pad. The ring coated the paper with ink (a very messy process). After a few minutes, behold-the ink would not stick to the wax, and your message was revealed.
About the second day into my life as a secret message sender, I had to wash my hands for dinner. Not wanting to get my decoder ring wet, I decided to remove it. I pulled, and it came off a little too easily. It went flying into the air, landed in the sink and began the downward spiral. Frozen with shock, I stood and watched my precious ring disappear down the drain. For days, I felt sick. Even as I write this, I feel a little twinge. I had lost my first treasure.
The Bible says a lot about treasure. Most people’s ideas on this subject match the treasure chest in “The Pirates of the Caribbean.” We think of treasure in terms of gold, silver and accumulated wealth. But Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Isn’t odd that He didn’t reverse it? He can tell what you value the most by what you . . . treasure. Too many of us spend time trying to build earthly treasures while missing out on the treasure that is . . . our family.
Earlier, Jesus told his disciples, “But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). Families who value their relationships with each other above any earthly possessions will never be . . . bankrupt.
When he was a boy, my oldest son used to ask me, “Dad, are we rich?” I always replied, “Oh, my son, we are wealthy beyond measure. We are rich in love.” Even today, at age 30, he will occasionally ask me, “Dad, are we rich?” Before I can answer, he replies, “Dad, we are rich in love.” That, my friend, is a treasure that moth and rust cannot destroy or thieves break in and steal. And . . . it doesn’t take a Rin Tin Tin decoder ring to figure this one out.