So many thoughts are on my heart this morning. The past two nights have seemed very long. Night before last I was awake for quite some time thinking about people I know who are suffering. I prayed silent prayers for them as I lay upon my bed, thankful, so very thankful for the gift of home and peace.
A while back, a dear friend gave to me a picture inscribed with the words, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God.” I’ve pondered over that many times since recognizing that indeed our lives do not cease to have difficulties, sometimes even extreme long-lasting difficulties, when we are living with God’s peace in our hearts. That peace serves as an anchor at the center of our being, a place for us to retreat to and find solace, rest, and strength.
So many of those I know who are suffering are parents…parents with sick children, parents with absent children, parents who have children with whom fellowship has been broken…all of these are deeply burdensome hurts to carry, all of them so because of the abiding love parents have for their children, no matter the age.
I cannot begin to scratch the surface of all we are taught about parental love and relationship through the true story of the relationship God has with His Son and with His earthly children in scripture, but I find it necessary to delve in as best I can to see what I can glean. Oh for understanding, how great is my need! Scripture tells us to ask for wisdom and understanding and that has become my heart’s plea over the years as I’ve passed from being someone’s child to being someone’s parent…along with the recent prayer that forever emanates for a pure heart and pure motives in all things. Surely, my need is great.
We find in Exodus 20, Matthew 15, and Ephesians 6 the command to honor our father and mother. In no place have I found in scripture where we are released from this command based on anything a parent has done or has failed to do. I’ve considered at length what honoring father and mother entails. Some things I’ve settled on are these: respect them with my words and behaviors, live an honest, responsible, faithful life as not to burden them or cast a negative light on them, be kind and caring.
I often think about little children and how we teach them to speak respectfully and to do their best in all endeavors. We show them love and we reinforce their loving behaviors toward us by responding to their sweet actions affectionately. We teach gratitude by daily expressing thanks to God in their presence and by making a point to consider God’s blessings in our lives verbally and ongoing. We show them perseverance by continually modeling it in daily tending to all things in the home, at work, at school, at church.
Honoring our parents as adults requires us to live out those principles of faithful service, gratitude, and respect. I think of God’s Holy Spirit and those who are filled with it and how they minister to our spirits, lighten our burdens, encourage and uplift us. Many families exemplify this type of blessed relationship between parents and adult children. The little ones who are onlookers in such families are blessed beyond measure by having those examples daily lived out before them. We call these “strong families.” We could call them “obedient families” because they are obeying God’s commands and reaping the wondrous reward for obedience.
Jesus is the only One who has ever walked the earth having a perfect parent and He is the only perfect child. He demonstrated His faithfulness to His Father’s will from beginning to end, never faltering, never failing to give glory and honor to God through His willful obedience. The Heavenly Father never failed to keep His Word, to direct, assist, and attend to the needs of His Son in order to ensure His Son accomplished and fulfilled the purpose for which He was sent. They were and are always and forever in One accord…perfect harmony and enduring love.
I truly believe that some of the worst troubles we find in individuals and families can be traced to failure to honor parents. Ephesians 6:1-3 states, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou may live long on the earth.” Notice we are told to obey our parents “in the Lord…that it may be well with [us]” I don’t believe it will be well with us unless we honor our parents. I’ve lived it in my own personal life and been witness to it in many others as I found myself in the middle of divided families time and again in my work. It is so fundamentally against God’s design for parents and children to be at odds with one another that we have no lasting peace until we align ourselves with this and other principles found in His Precious Word.
May we all find our hearts drawn into loving relationship during this Christmas Season. May we cease from strife and become agents of peace. May we search, each one his own heart, and make all necessary changes in order to fulfill this lifelong command to honor father and mother.