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Live the Example
I think we can all agree that even under the most perfect circumstances, parenting is the hardest job on the planet. A parent is on call 24/7/365, and for each child in the household, a parent has 2 little eyes always watching and 2 little ears always listening. Honestly, living the example is hard, but it makes all the difference.
No parent is perfect, but it is the goal to set.
I grew up in a single-parent household. That’s unfortunately pretty common these days, but it was not common in a small, mid-western town in the ‘60s. I had not attended school for very long before that became obvious. I was not the same as the other children in my class. Who could I watch? Who would live the example for me?
An Exemplary Mother
Being different is sometimes hard for children, but I had great examples–sacrificial examples–and those examples molded me. One of the greatest examples of living sacrificially was my mother. She worked hard to support not only my brother and me, but also her own mother (my grandmother), who was a widow. I think the first real lesson in living sacrificially that I remember had to do with our ’60s-style Easter traditions.
Back in those days, it was the traditional thing for all children to get new Easter outfits every year. For a young lady, that meant a dress, frilly socks, black patent leather shoes, a spring coat, hat, and gloves. For a young man, it meant dress pants, at least a vest, if not also a sports coat or suit coat, socks, the male version of the black patent leather shoes, and tie. This was no inexpensive deal. It was the way we lived. Along with the religious significance, Easter meant a dress-up occasion.
For many years, my mother wore her “traditional” dove gray suit (pencil skirt and jacket) with a turquoise blouse. She looked so beautiful in that suit! I’m ashamed to say that it took me many years to realize that she didn’t wear that suit because it was “tradition” or because it looked lovely on her; she wore it because after she shopped for my brother and me, I doubt there was much money left to shop for herself. She never mentioned it. Oh, how we take things for granted!
My True Father
Although I remained pretty clueless for many years about my mother’s example, I was still a child when a Sunday School teacher opened my eyes to my Father. He was teaching his lesson one Sunday morning, and all of a sudden, he said the magic words: “God is your Father.”
He wasn’t speaking directly to me, but the Holy Spirit, through him, changed my life! I was not really a child with one parent. My Father was God Almighty, and there was no better father to have. I did my best to get to know Him in a very personal way. I talked to Him often, I went to church, and as the years went on, I read more and more of His word.
A Good, Good Father
When I was in high school, I walked literally for miles every evening and “talked to Him.” It was a sweet and special time, and He taught me many things (like about my mother’s sacrifice). He became Abba, my Daddy, my peace and my comfort, and He is still teaching me. Although His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts, I have come to know Him well.
By His word and by the testimony of others, through the miracles He has performed in my life and in the lives of others, I know my Daddy. He has brought me into His shelter and provided for me, and that is where, as a wife, mother, grandmother, and teacher, I still find my rest. There is an ocean of turmoil in the world, but in Daddy’s care, I am at peace. I’m not saying I never have a worry or a problem, but in the midst of the storm, I am at peace. I believe in His promises. He says:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust, surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
“A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you . . . for He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation'” (Ps. 91:1–16).
An Exemplary Father
There came an occasion when I was traveling with my daughter’s family to Florida. The weather got bad and we ended up with my son-in-law driving through a terrible storm. It was raining so hard that sight was nearly impossible—one of those times when it is as dangerous to pull over as it is to keep going. The deluge continued for about twenty minutes and my son-in-law kept driving and I kept silently praying and the children in the back seat with me kept—sleeping. Yes, sleeping. They never doubted for a second that they were safe in their daddy’s care. Because they live with him and know him, they understand that caring for them is his nature. He could never do otherwise because he loves them.
Abiding in His Shelter
That’s the way it is with my Daddy, and yours. When we live with Him and take the time to know Him, we realize that caring for us and loving us is what He does. When we abide in His shelter and under His shadow (that means we have to be close), we understand that we are safe no matter what storm we may encounter on our road. He is eager to give us guidance, direction, peace and protection.
Children who abide under the shadow of parents who do their best to live a godly example are in a good place. All we “who abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” our Abba, are in the very best place!
Thank you, Lord, for being my Daddy. And I pray for all parents everywhere, that they may see, recognize, and live the example that You set. Amen.