Saturday, March 22, 2014

Honouring Parents

Ann’s parents failed to provide an adequate home for their children due to mental illnesses. The home was well known in the neighbourhood for its critically dysfunctional nature, and the authorities frequently took the children away.
Ann’s aunt repeatedly provided required clothing, and neighbours would bring food for the children. Inside the home there was barely enough disreputable furniture for needs; even that the mother’s worst periods of bi-polar extremes often destroyed.
Ann’s three brothers—all from different fathers—spent most of their childhood in institutions. Ann finally went to live with her grandmother during her teen years.
These appalling conditions did not lessen Ann’s love for her parents. During her teen years, when her mother would return home after her frequent stays in the local mental hospital, Ann would attempt to restore normality in the home with donated furniture and equipment.
Even knowing the destructive behaviour would repeat itself, she determined to alleviate the home conditions—simply because they were her parents. Even during our early married years Ann used items from our growing home to rebuild her shattered childhood home.
Ann feared for our own children’s safety; for a period we lived close to the mental institution that often housed her mother, and she kept the doors locked. But she kept ongoing contact with her parents, ensuring, as she was able, their well-being despite their destructive behaviour.
She honoured her parents in this way until their deaths, seeking to follow God’s greater imperative more than her natural responses.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

God Has No Grandchildren

The bumper sticker read: “If I’d known grandchildren were so much fun I would have had them first.” With grandchildren we have no parental responsibility and can send them home when we’re tired.

But to be a grandchild of God is a vulnerable place. My commitment to God when I was ten years old was a meaningful decision. But my father’s conviction of his faith bolstered my assurance of faith. He clearly expressed his belief and confidently preached it.

As long as confidence in some-one else is our assurance of faith, we are God’s grandchildren. If we rely on some-one else’s belief, our own faith may falter and our confidence is undermined.

Jacob is a prime example. Early in life, his confidence was in the God of his father Isaac: he referred to “the Lord your God” in Genesis 27:20. But later he met God at Bethel and the Lord became his God. For the rest of his life, his personal relationship with God—tenuous at times—became his mainstay.

Joseph came to that place much earlier in life. He lost all contact with his family and those who knew God. His adversity drove him to seek God for himself.

There is nothing wrong with leaning on others during a time of incubation and maturing of our faith. But a systematic knowledge of God’s word, and experience of God’s involvement in our lives, will make our faith our own. Then we are able to “give the reason for the hope that you have,” 1 Peter 3:15. Where are you on this journey?