DON’T BE YOUR PARENTS!
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
God fathers each child differently. His path is a solitary one and my journey will never imitate that of my parents. If my parents were iconic in their faith, the expectations for me to follow in their footsteps will be impossible to attain. I am not either parent nor should I try to be.
The patriarchs modeled this kind of obedience. Isaac was told by God to avoid Egypt during a time of famine. God made it clear that Egypt was off limits. But God’s plan for Isaac's son, Jacob, was different. In his famine, Egypt was the place he was to go and settle. Doing something different from his father had to feel frightening at first. Jacob must have been confused as he embarked on a journey so peculiar.
God stretched me out of my family’s mold sometime in my mid-forties. My views of some peripheral biblical issues differed from that of my father and the legalistic church I was raised in. There were some tense discussions and feelings from his disapproval created a shadow over our relationship. With time, it improved as it became clear to him that God had His hand on my life and I learned to speak of my new positions with grace. Before he died, God moved us on to the same page through some ‘end of life’ experiences and I am so thankful.
To complicate matters, I married young into a well-known Christian family whose patriarch was a famous evangelist. Things were harmonious throughout the early years of our marriage because both Ron and I held to the family’s views on most every biblical issue. Eventually though, God began to take us on the journey He had planned for us. It meant leaving home and the ministry his father started. Though we still agreed on the tenets of the Gospel, our interpretations of secondary issues of grace didn’t gel. Again, we experienced feelings that we were outsiders and it was painful to no longer fit.
God’s message to each disciple is clear. We are His children first and members of our earthly family second. Egypt may be denied to our fathers but permissible for us. God is a kind Father who leads deliberately ~ giving His child the courage to take steps away from our ‘family’s way of doing things’. The fallout can make us second-guess our new direction but God gives grace with the call to go where He sends us. His voice is wild and wonderful; his ways are peculiar and solitary. Any price we pay is long compensated by the joy of hearing God say, “Well done!”
My heart begs to be shaped by You, and by no one else. Amen