My grandmother died yesterday. She would have been 91 years old in March. As I thought about our years together, I thought of all of the very many gifts she gave me. Not material gifts, for she and my grandpa never had very much money. The gifts she gave me were the very best kind. They are gifts I use regularly and treasure in my heart.
Granny gave me the gift of being raised in a family that loved the Lord. God bless the person who invited her into church one Sunday morning as she stopped to rest with her baby stroller in front of that building. Those people studied the Bible with her and she soon became a Christian. The church family that invited her in would become my church family once the baby in that stroller grew up, married and had me.
I really want to have a long talk with Mary and Joseph. I have to think God chose the best possible earthly parents to raise His son. Not perfect, because only Jesus was, but probably better than most. I think I may be right, as at least some of their sons (Joseph was their birth father and the adoptive father of Jesus) were leaders in the early church. (The book of James is thought to have been written by their son James.)
Unfortunately, my conversation probably won’t happen very soon (and if it does, I won’t be writing about it!). My clues to the parenting advice Mary and Joseph might give have to be gleaned from what the scriptures tell us about their actions. I went back and re-read everything I could find that mentioned either one of them. They really do have quite a few lessons to teach us about godly parenting.
This is the time of year for family gatherings. While you tell old stories, laugh at good times and re-fight old fights, think about your family legacy. Parenting has a ripple effect that continues for generations beyond the “original” set of parents.
When I hear horrific stories of child abuse, I shudder not only for the child but I also wonder about the abuser. Sadly, he (or she) probably had the same horrific things done to him as a child. The pattern often continues for generations unless someone is able to make a conscious effort to break the pattern.
Let’s be honest. If you have been a parent for more than a day, you know there are some days you can’t even think about dedicating your child’s life to God. Frankly, you just feel you have accomplished something major when you put him to bed in one piece at the end of the day (and some days even that is in question!).
I used to feel guilty after having a string of days when everyone was sick, everything broke down and everyone wanted my help with something. It seemed like everything was sliding – housework, nutrition and let’s not even talk about manners, rules and teaching about God.
This summer our family took a vacation to territory new to us. One of the states we drove through was North Dakota. It was a typical state where farming is the primary industry. Mile after mile of fields were dotted occasionally with a house or very small village. There was one thing about almost all of those farms that just amazed me though. On almost every acre there sat a huge pile of rocks. Not tiny rocks mind you, but rocks that would take one or more very large, strong men to struggle to move. It became very obvious this rich farm land had once been incredibly rocky. The early settlers must have performed backbreaking labor for days just to ready the fields for plowing and planting. They must have had to work quickly and as a team as the growing season that far north is very short. (In the winter the cold is bitter and the fields covered in snow.)
I am sure many settlers buckled under the work, gave up and moved to easier places to farm. I imagine all of them were tempted to give up more than once. It appears though that the work of those who toughed it out and remained was worth it. Even today, generations later, the fields yield beautiful and abundant crops.