May 11, 2008

And You Shall Teach Them Diligently

As usual, I will need a few moments to set this up, so please bear with me :).


Deuteronomy 5:16 16 ¶ 'Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.

Ephesians 6:2-4 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3 that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. 4 And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

So often we use this verse or speak about it, but we never really delve into what it means, how it plays out practically in life. As already stated, the purpose of this note is not to give an exposition of this verse, but rather to be one part of a lifetime of fulfilling it, to thank my mom on this mother’s day. Children are called to honor and obey their parents and parents are called to raise their children in the love and admonition of the Lord, not unto wrath. As with all of the scriptures, the purpose is a matter of the inward heart, not merely outward appearance. I have been blessed with a mother that understands this and has raised me to. Though there are many ways to express appreciation and love, public praise is a very important one and is the purpose and intent of this note.

For those of you that don’t know, I am a student at Southern Seminary. I have been blessed to be able to take a parenting class this semester covering the Biblical theory, methodology, and implementation of parenting. It was a very encouraging, fun, and devotional class for me. You may wonder how so, when I am still single and not dating, thus quite far from parenting? My mom is the answer to that question. Ultimately all glory and honor belong to the Lord, but his faithful servants are also to be praised. I say it was devotional first because of the subject, the very subject of parenting is a weighty one that encompasses the gamut of the Gospel. There is much to be learned and applied between the two. Yet, I also say it was devotional because I cannot remember a single time during the course that we covered something my mom not only lived out in how she raised me, but also taught me to do the same. I was constantly presented with material and over and over I could hear or see my mom in the past either doing the same thing or giving the same advice.

As I said in a previous note dedicated to my mom, she would not have me go on and on bragging about her (though I most certainly could), so I will respect her wishes. Yet, I will say a few things very briefly. Of all the things that I could list and all the things mom has done (and believe me, they are MANY), perhaps the thing that has had the greatest impact is the level of communication we have always shared. I cannot take credit for this. Sure, I talk a lot (once you get to know me anyway), but the communication came from my mom, constantly teaching and correcting me. With the communication we were able to, well, communicate about a lot of things. We have had endless conversations lasting who knows how long about countless things (I guess you get the point). Yet, in these conversations, mom was not just talking to me. No, she was also teaching me. We would talk about theory, methodology, and implementation of parenting as well as life in general. When she would discipline me, she would explain why and what her goal was. When she would observe me interacting with others, she would explain how that fit in one category or another and why this may work and that may not. My mom LIVED the Shema(h)*, teaching me at every moment in constant selflessness. I cannot imagine how much it must have taken out of her, especially considering the things we’ve been through; and yet, she was always faithful, and is always faithful. Even to this day, mom continues to teach me and to watch over my soul as it were. Even to this day, she is the most discerning person I’ve ever met. She led me in love and in devotion to Christ and I am who I am in Him ultimately because of Him, but I was led that way through my mom, His faithful servant.

I remember one conversation in particular a while back where I was complimenting her and, being humble as she is, she said that most kids think so, but that as they age, they begin to see mistakes their parents made and wonder to themselves “why did mom do this to me” or that a particular thing the parents chose to do caused trouble later on. I told her then that by nature of her statement I couldn’t give an adequate answer, but that I did not believe that would be true (and even if it were, we are all human). As with so many of the things mom has told me, I “kept it (them) in my heart.” Since then I have paid close attention to myself and to the idea of parenting, I do not want to be blind. After over a year of this contemplation, several marriage and this parenting class, I still stand by what I said. Strong as I am, I cannot fathom how she raised me in the way she did with the circumstances as they were. She gave me a sure foundation in Christ and even helped me build the walls. Was she perfect? Am I blind to her imperfections? Most certainly not, but we are all human and as parents go, I cannot, with all of my vivid imagination, imagine someone to have done a better job or done it with more love.

With all that she has poured into me and all that the Lord has led me to, I do not fear marriage or parenting. I take it seriously don’t get me wrong, but I do not fear it. I have seen the things she taught me work time and time again and even here at Seminary, they were prescribed as the way we ought to raise our children. With such testimony, how can I fear. Instead, I prayerfully hope that I can be an equally loving and wise parent.

As I said in the beginning of this note, one of the ways that you can demonstrate love is to publicly praise the one you love and yet I can’t even do that without realizing that my mom is the one who taught me how. So, I’m afraid that I can’t give her anything she has not already given me… but then again, that is the truest definition of love and a wonderful picture of the Gospel. Thank you so much mom, for your endless love, care, and support. You have taught me more about the Lord, the Scriptures, and ministry, than all my theology classes combined. What else can I say, but I love you and I am unspeakably thankful that the Lord allowed me to have you for my mother!

So mom, thank you so much! Please continue praying for me as I know you have, do, and will. I pray for you all the time and I am continually amazed by your wisdom, insight, and love! Words will surely fail if I continue trying, so, happy mother’s day!

*Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ¶ "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 5 "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 "And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; 7 and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 8 "And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 9 "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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