“And Manoah said, ‘Now let Thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?’”
Judges 13: 12
“Invest in the future; have a child and teach her well.”
What have I taught the children God has put into my life?
What lessons have the children whose lives I’ve touched, learned from me?
“Children need models more than they need critics.”
“Oh, what a tangled web do parents weave when they think that their children are naïve.”
Ogden Nash, Poet
My grandma was one of the most spiritual people I’ve ever met. When grandma knelt down to pray, I often wondered if God would appear in the room by her side. Maybe grandma’s closeness with God developed because she lost her own father at sea when she was young. Without her earthly dad to lean on, grandma relied on her heavenly “Dad.” When she began her prayers with the words, “My Father,” there was no doubt in your mind that God was “Someone” grandma knew personally.
It was her influence that has had a profound effect, not only on my own life, but on the lives of everyone she touched even to this very day.
However, even my precious grandma could get her feathers ruffled. And nothing upset her more than criticism and gossip. If you wanted to see grandma unhappy, start talking about someone else in a demeaning way. Believe me, you were in for trouble!
I can remember the family sitting around Grandma and Grandpa’s dinner table and someone, during the conversation, criticizing the pastor’s sermon. Oh, boy! Grandma put the brakes on that conversation! She looked at the person who was speaking and with a stare that contained fiery darts Grandma said, “Little ears are listening. Do you want to encourage our “little ones” (as she called her grandchildren) to doubt, criticize and gossip?” On more than one occasion, Grandma shielded us from the negative and the hostile for I heard her call us “little sponges” that absorbed everything. She believed what we “young ones” saw and heard would stay with us much longer than any advice tossed our way by the adults.
Grandma was right, for what I saw and heard always had a more significant impact on my life than anything I was told. In one of my more sappy moments as a teen, I remember telling my dad, “I don’t like anything you’re telling me, but at least you aren’t a phony. You don’t say one thing and do another.”
The world famous author George Bernard Shaw penned these absolutely true words: “The best brought-up children are those who have seen their parents as they are. Hypocrisy is not the parents’ first duty.”
Before we take a look at the choices that Manoah and “Faithful’s” son, Samson, made in his life, I want to explore his upbringing, for in his home life, we find the seeds were planted which became the harvest of Samson’s life.
When the angel re-appeared to “Faithful,” she asked her husband to come talk with the angel, too. There are some Biblical commentators who think Manoah didn’t show enough faith during this encounter. But I feel Manoah was a fine man of God who, like Gideon, needed verification of heaven’s message. Furthermore, I greatly admire Manoah, who could have followed the worldly tradition as well as the custom of many of God’s children, the Israelites, and taken more than one wife. When Sarah couldn’t conceive, Abraham took Hagar. During the time of the Judges, we find God’s leaders even took harlots in Canaan to deliver them heirs. With a wife unable to have a child, Manoah certainly had a good enough reason to find another “womb,” but he didn’t. He was a one-woman-man in the midst of a polygamist society and his Godly behavior was why we find him asking for heavenly help with the task of raising a special child.
In fact, Manoah asked the Angel of the Lord, “How shall we ‘order’ the child, and how shall we ‘do’ unto him?” As the Hebrew reads, “Under what rules or laws shall we operate as we raise this child?”
What a fabulous question for Manoah to ask. Rather than acting as though he knew everything and had all the answers or rather than doing things his way, Manoah asked for God’s guidance, God’s advice, God’s hedge, God’s rules to be the compass that directed the instruction of Samson, their son. What a witness for Samson to watch – two God-fearing parents who wanted to follow God’s way and will.
I want to end today’s devotional with a short essay by an unknown author. As you look around at the “little sponges” who are soaking up all you are saying and doing, I hope these thoughts will be a catalyst for your interaction with the children in your life:
“When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking”
“When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me, and I knew that little things are special things. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you pray, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I felt you kiss me good night, and I felt loved. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it’s all right to cry. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you give to someone needy and I learned the joy of giving. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you always did your best and it made me want to be all that I could be. When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say “thank you” and I wanted to say thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.”
“If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear,
he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with pity,
he learns to feel sorry for himself.
If a child lives with jealousy,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns to be self-confident.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance,
he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition,
he learns to have a goal.
If a child lives with fairness,
he learns what justice is.
If a child lives with honesty,
he learns what truth is.
If a child lives with sincerity,
he learns to have faith in himself and
those around him.
If a child lives with love,
he learns that the world is
a wonderful place to live in.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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