Listen, Children!

Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;
don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.
Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;
wear them like a scarf around your neck.
Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;
whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;
when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.
For sound advice is a beacon,
good teaching is a light,
moral discipline is a life path.        Proverbs 6:20-23 (The Message)

Oh, how often as a child and then a teenager was I told to listen to my parents! My response most often was a roll of my eyes.

My parents told me to listen to them. They wanted so much to keep me from making bad choices. I don’t think they were trying to keep me from making the same mistakes that they had made – they didn’t think in those directions! But they could “see” with their “parent antenna” that there was cause for concern. They were trying to pull me back from the edge of an unknown cliff.

Pastors, coaches and teachers throughout my life tried to teach me moral and practical rules that could be a compass as I made decisions. I thought they were old-fashioned and out of touch. Their way of doing things had gotten us into a heinous war (Viet Nam) and driven many of my friends to drugs. It was so easy to blame my life on the sins of my parents’ generation. The war and the death of three of my friends in a car accident during my junior year in high school, showed me that my life could be short and I should live while I could. Who knew if I had tomorrow? It was all about me and today.

I’m reading a book right now, Mama Made the Difference by T D Jakes (ISBN#0399153993, Putnam Adult, 2006). It’s made me think about what my parents did and did not teach me. I think like most parents, they thought if they just constrained me from the “wrong” people and the “wrong” experiences, I would be content and safe in this cocoon. I didn’t want a cocoon. I wanted to experience things. I wasn’t into drugs (being the control freak that I am) but I wanted to meet all kinds of people and travel. Bishop Jakes has led me into thinking about what I did learn from my parents and how that translated into what I taught my children.

As a parent, I am going to teach my children. Even the most disinterested or abusive parent teache their children – in a negative way. It occurs to me that Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3) did not carry his famous wisdom over into his family life. As a king, and with the number in his family, it would seem to me that Solomon’s influence would be rather negative. And yet he encourages children to listen to the teachings of their parents. Give your parents the consideration that they just might know some things that would be worth listening with both ears. And now, looking back, they did know and I should have listened.

And if a child doesn’t have a good example from a parent, they do have a good example in their Father God. I know a young girl who came to youth meetings at a church I attended. Her parents had no interest in church or God but were happy that their daughter was occupied 2-3 evenings a week with “good” people at a church, as long as they didn’t have to provide any support through their time or money. This girl would ride her bike, even in the rain, to come to church. I have never forgotten her example of “hunger” and faithfulness. She made a difference in my life and she didn’t even know that she was teaching me God’s wisdom straight from her Heavenly Father.

I hope you will join me in Proverbs this weekend, maybe even read some in this book every day. Let’s listen to our Father. BLESSINGS to you all!

By the way, I found Bishop Jakes’ book at my local library. It is an excellent read.

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