My life alongside God's word, volume 3. 'Daily Christian discipleship' section.
The fifth of the Ten Commandments reads: “Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you”, Exodus 20:12. The reference to “land” was to the Promised Land, which Israel was to soon enter and possess. It does not give a clear
promise for today. The need for children, especially Christians, to treat their parents thoughtfully and in ways that show we know they are important to us, however, is
always current and valid.
Our Lord Jesus quoted this official order from God in Matthew 19:18-19. Paul used it in Ephesians 6:1-3, quoting Deuteronomy 5:16, and including the promise of long life while leaving out any special land.
My Dad lived to a good age before dying of cancer in a London hospital. My Mum was killed outright in a head-on car accident when I was just 23 years old. Having become a
born-again Christian believer as a child of 11 years, I have always tried to love, respect and thank my parents, and honour their memory.
I recall two incidents where a clash of wills made this very challenging. I admit I may not have acted properly at the time. It was difficult to reconcile what I believed God wanted
me to do with what my parents, especially my Dad, wanted for me. Of course, as a teenager I thought I knew everything.
The first incident
This was when I was 13 and I wanted to be baptised by immersion as a believer. Dad said, “No”, because I had already been baptised as a baby. I believed, and still do, that we should take a public stand for our Lord Jesus Christ by going through the waters of baptism after being personally converted. As it happened I waited a year at my Mum’s
suggestion (along with the church’s wise youth leader). When I eventually was baptised my Dad came to the service, for which I was very grateful. I believe he could see my life
was changing as I followed my Saviour. Praise God!
The second incident
This was six years later. I had felt increasingly that God was calling me into Christian ministry and I wanted to go to theological college. I was already serving God in youth work and in my local church, but my Dad once more said, “No”. This time Mum, Dad and I came to an agreement discussing my future together. I started working for a bank and studied for and passed my banking exams. I also saved money from my wages towards training at a Christian college. I did little else. Mum and Dad saw this and, after a while, said they would not stand in my way any longer. In fact they were a terrific help in every way they possibly could be.
I am still thankful to God for the obstacles my parents put in my way because they actually served to strengthen and confirm the call God had given me. I am also pleased and humbled that my folks could see God at work in my life.
Some years into my mission service in UK and visiting Africa, Dad was not able to get out much because of his health. His “church” became a weekly BBC TV programme that was broadcast from an individual’s house to the nation for 30 minutes every Sunday morning. One day it was televised from Dad’s home. Dad was able to give his testimony of God’s faithfulness to him and to tell of his love of gardening, hospitality to students from all round the world and his “power-house of prayer” for them and others. On the programme there was a five-minute slot for a message. Dad asked the BBC if I could give it. They agreed.
Last Christmas, my wife and I gave DVDs of that programme to all of Mum and Dad’s children and grandchildren. We felt it was a way that Dad could speak to his descendants, perhaps for several generations to come. In this he and I would speak together, with one voice and one message.
Your parents gave you your existence. Thank them by becoming what God intended you to be. Honour their memory. If they were believers, share their story of faith with your own children. Pass it on!
“Honour (respect, treat with integrity, give serious attention to) your father and mother”.
First published in Grace & Truth Magazine, November 2014. Slightly altered here.