Honor Your Father

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.Exodus 20:12

A few weeks ago, Pastor James preached a series called “The 10 Commandments of Marriage”. Over a few weeks, he taught about how the commandments can specifically be applied to our marriages.

In our small group, we dig deeper into the sermons by working through the Pulpit Curriculum. The night we discussed Commandment #5, we talked about how we can encourage our children to honor our spouse.  But, for those of us who do not have children, we can also encourage our spouse to honor God through honoring our parents.  I was reminded of a very good example my parents gave me of how this can be applied within marriage.

My Grandfather, my Mom’s Dad, was not a good man. All we ever really knew of him was that he beat my mom and her siblings. He was mean and unfair. He had addictive behaviors that were harmful to his family. And, after he and my Grandmother divorced, he had little to do with my mom or with us. When my Dad went to ask for permission to marry my mom, his response would make you cringe. He didn’t know what it meant to be a good father.

I can remember meeting him only a handful of times in my life. Several years ago, as cancer ate away at his body and his time on earth was drawing to a close, he wanted to see his kids. He wanted to see my Mom.

It’s hard for me to imagine what it was like for my Mom to be raised in a home that wasn’t safe for her. My parents have done a great job of creating a safe and loving environment for me and my brothers. We never had to wonder if we were loved. We never had to worry that we weren’t safe in our home. I’m very grateful for that. If I suddenly got the call that one of my parent’s was close to entering eternity, I would rush to their side without question. I am privileged to have parents who deserve and have earned that kind of respect from their kids.

My Mom didn’t have that kind of relationship with her Dad. Years ago, she made peace with and grieved the loss of that relationship. So, when the time came to actually begin the grieving process, she felt like she had already walked that road. Her initial response was to refuse to go. She wanted nothing to do with him just as he had wanted nothing to do with her (and us) for so many years. He didn’t deserve and hadn’t earned that respect.

Then my Dad stepped into the middle of the mess.

My Dad has always stood up for what he believes, even when it’s unpopular with people…even when it’s unpopular in our home. His black and white interpretation of God’s Word has cost him a lot in his life, but he has always done his best to adhere to His commands. So, when my Mom had this final opportunity to honor her father, my Dad persuaded her.

We experienced a few uncomfortable days in our home. My Mom really didn’t want to go, but my Dad was insistent. In the end, she agreed to go, but only out of obedience to the Lord.

I believe what happened next was the Lord’s grace for my Mom. My parents flew to Florida and arrived just moments after my Grandfather passed away. They waited with him while the authorities came to retrieve his body and my Mom had a moment to pay her respects. They stayed and worked to arrange his funeral. And, they laid him to rest.

Some people have fathers who are easy to love and honor. I think of Truett Cathy who would have been 94 years old yesterday. He lived a life and left a legacy that was worthy of honor. Not only his children, but thousands of people across the world, honored him as he crossed into eternity and went home to be with His Lord.

Others have fathers that are to be honored out of obedience to the Lord, not because they have done anything worth honoring. This is far more difficult. I wish my Mother had been born to a man who was capable of showing the kind of love that my Dad has shown to me and my brothers. But, sadly, that was not her story. However, her story is one of obedience and faithfulness to her Lord. Her story is one of partnering with a man who loves the Lord, loves her and loves their children even when it’s hard. I am so grateful to have an example of faithfulness when it doesn’t make earthly sense.

My parents have not always made choices that were popular with people. However, I’m grateful for the choices they made to protect, love and teach us, even though it was not always comfortable. (And, even though I didn’t fully understand the value of those rules at the time!) Having two parents who live out their faith, even when it’s hard, is priceless.  They care more about our souls than our feelings.  They don’t sacrifice Truth for comfort or parenting for friendship.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.Exodus 20:12

The commandment with a promise. May their faithfulness be rewarded with long life and may they see the harvest of the seeds they have sown.

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