I just returned from dropping my daughter off at the airport to go to yet another out-of-state “exposure” tournament. She’s a senior in high school and has been playing softball for several years. She’s trying to get recruited onto a college softball team, and these tournaments give her exposure to college coaches.
This morning as we were trying to get ready to go, my daughter and I got into an explosive argument, and some of her comments about how “mean” I am and how badly I treat her were enough to send me over the edge. I looked at her incredulously, as the dollar signs floated through my head…all the money we’ve invested in her softball, all the personal sacrifices we’ve made, all the trips to the airport, all the games I’ve watched in sun, wind, rain and bitter cold on hard bleachers, all the uniforms I’ve washed and scrubbed, all the water bottles I’ve remembered to pack when she didn’t…
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)
It occurred to me this morning as I thought about this commandment that perhaps it wasn’t God who would bring a swift end to their days if they didn’t honor their parents, but the parents themselves. I know I’ve entertained the thought a time or two. OK, maybe three.
When God included this commandment in the ten commandments, He knew how thankless the job of parenting is. And how trying. And how stressful. Most parents sacrifice far more for their kids than their kids will ever know. They put themselves and their needs behind the needs of their kids. They go without certain things so their kids can have things they need–or want. So when their kids dishonor them, it’s a slap in the face. It’s the ultimate insult.
What’s more, as a parent, you want to share your wisdom with your kids, but most of the time, they simply don’t want to hear it. They haven’t gotten to the age where they value the wisdom of those who’ve gone before them. Still, we parents continue to try to impart it to them, hoping something will stick. This morning, I heard a great song on a country radio station called, “Voices” by Chris Young. It’s all about the people in the singer’s life–Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma–who’ve spoken wisdom into his life over the years. Here are some of the lyrics:
I hear voices
I hear voices like
My dad sayin’ work that job
But don’t work your life away
Mama tellin’ me to drop some cash
In the offering plate on Sunday
And granddad sayin’ you can have a few
But don’t ever cross that line
Yeah I hear voices all the time
Turns out I’m pretty dang lucky
For all that good advice
Those hard to find words of wisdom
Holed up here in my mind
And just when I’ve lost my way
Or I got too many choices
I hear voices
I hear voices like my dad sayin’ “Quit the team
And you’ll be a quitter for the rest of your life.”
Mama tellin’ me to say a prayer
Every time I lay down at night
And grandma sayin’ if you find the one
You’d better treat her right
Yeah, I hear voices all the time
Sometimes I try to ignore ’em
But I thank God for ’em
‘Cause they made me who I am
Good parenting is an earthly example of God’s incredible grace toward us. Many times, I’ve told my daughters, “You don’t deserve this, but I’m giving it to you anyway. That’s what grace is all about.” How many times have we gotten mad at God, or turned our backs on Him, or blamed Him for something, or demanded that He give us something RIGHT NOW!!! And how many times has He given us good gifts that have gone completely unnoticed or unappreciated? How many times have we stopped and thanked Him simply for always being there, 24/7, always ready to listen and act upon our prayers?
God is our heavenly Father and He knows all about being taken for granted, and treated with complete disrespect. And that’s why He expects us to honor our parents. They deserve our honor, and by honoring them, we learn to honor Him.
The same goes for honoring seniors, or those older than ourselves. Seniors deserve our utmost honor and respect. They have been through the trials of life. They’ve bucked against hard times and come out the other side. They’ve had terrible loss and wonderful gain, and they have the wisdom of the ages. God expects us to give parents and seniors our utmost respect, because they have gone before us, and have cleared the paths we follow in. They have sacrificed themselves for our sakes so that we can pursue our dreams, and they have left a legacy like a light to our path in a darkening world.
There’s a great YouTube video that shows an old woman standing on the side of the road, waiting to cross on a crosswalk. A man pulls up in his glitzy convertible, and waits briefly for her to cross, but when she doesn’t, he lays on his horn. The woman jumps visibly in surprise, then slowly makes her way across the crosswalk. When she gets in front of the man’s car, she smacks it with her purse, and the man’s airbag deploys into his face.
Now that’s poetic license. And God’s wonderful, wonderful sense of humor.