Sunday, June 16, 2013

Honor Your Father...That Your Days may be Long...

"'Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5: 16

Today is the day in which we honor our fathers for the role God has given them in our life. Whether you have had a situation of happiness or sorrow with your earthly Dad, God's principle remains the same, honor your father. As a little girl, I had what I call magical thinking toward my parents. I believed everything they told me, and thought they could make all of my problems go away. As I matured, I outgrew that kind of thinking and sadly came to realize that people, even my parents, could not solve my problems.

Even after walking with the Lord many years, I still leaned on the arm of the flesh for way too long. The Lord had to discipline me like an earthly father would to show me that He was the only one I could lean on. In my reading today, I cam across these words in Isaiah 31: 1:

"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, [And] rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because [they are] many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the LORD!"

That is exactly what I did for many years, by constantly running to people, even though I had the Bible and its multitude of wisdom. One day it occurred to me, God's verrrry slow learner, that He meant just what He said.

Isaiah continues in verse 2:

"Yet He also [is] wise and will bring disaster, And will not call back His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers, And against the help of those who work iniquity."

As I read verse 3 (which I have read many times before) a light bulb went off:

Now the Egyptians [are] men, and not God; And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out His hand, Both he who helps will fall, And he who is helped will fall down; They all will perish together. (emphases are mine)

Worldly wisdom tells you if someone is nasty to you then you should be nasty back to them. Get them back with ferocity! It also says if you want to get rich, play the lottery often and maybe you'll hit one day, and then you won't have to work anymore. Don't worry about having integrity, nobody else does, so why should you? These are some of the things you might learn when you "go down to Egypt for help."

Dad taught me wisdom that lined up with things taught in the Bible. The chief morsel would have to be this:

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise,(v.7) Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, (v.8) Provides her supplies in the summer, [And] gathers her food in the harvest.
(v.9) How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? (v.10) A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep-- (v. 11) So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

Dad put up with my foolish complaining when he asked me to help him carry firewood back to the house that was chopped down over the hill. We would burn the wood in our family room fireplace. I was a "little continual dripper" like the nagging Proverbs wife in grade school!

"It's too cold out here, Dad!" I would start the whining after only carrying about two loads. Dad never minded a bit of cold, his blue eyes would twinkle like Santa Claus out there. He would just keep trudging and expect me to do the same.

I think that's why Dad singled me out to go help him, which I saw as a "grave injustice." Little did I know what Dad had to do when he was my age.Every morning he would be up before dawn to feed and care for all animals in the family barn. On the Iowa farm, Dad only had one pair of shoes to wear to school and had to pay his own way to get through college. It was a feat that no one else in his family did. I was a foolish ingrate, but thank God for His mercy in showing me the way to repentance.

I thank God for my hard working earthly father. To this day, Proverbs 6: 6-11 has never characterized him. He works from sunup to sundown at age eighty-one. His mind is sharp as a pin. He honors the Lord with the firstfruits of his increase. (Proverbs 3:9) He delights to go to the house of the Lord, and fellowships with his wife of fifty-five years in the Word every day.

No matter where you are with your Dad today, it is never too late to make a fresh start. Even if he did you wrong, God put him in your life for some reason. Maybe you will never know it until eternity. I encourage you to thank God for your earthly father. In doing so, your faith will be built up and your burden will be lightened. And that is what Christ came to do. (Matthew 11: 28-30)

1Th 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

If you are estranged from your earthly Dad, there is no time better than "now" to be the first person to take a step in reconciliation. Even if he won't, you'll know in your heart you tried. You will have peace, your days on earth will not be filled with anxiety, with strife, with a constant running from yourself and others.

But last of all, even if your relationship with your earthly Dad wasn't what you hoped it would be, in your sorrow remember that God's love will never, ever change towards you:

I John 3: 1 assures us ultimately:

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children because they don't know Him.

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