Sunday, May 11, 2014

A special day

It's only happened four times. Ever. Today is both Mother's Day and my niece's birthday, a day of remembrance for me and a day of celebration.



Among other implications, I only have one place to put a profile picture on Facebook.

But seriously, it is a day full of mixed feelings. I miss my mother terribly, and at the same time I am so thankful for what she did to make me the man I am today. (To get a wonderful description of her, take time to listen to the audio link at the bottom of this blog post.) And I am so very proud of my niece Haley, who has graduated from the University of Alabama and has a wonderful heart, following in the footsteps of her mother on that.

Two amazing people being celebrated on the same day.

It calls to mind a scripture that seems to be very strange. In the second of the Ten Commandments delivered to Moses, the LORD instructs his people not to make any graven images - any idols to worship. And then he says this,
(F)or I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgressions of fathers by dealing with children for the iniquity of their parents to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 
- Exodus 20:5-6 (New English Translation)

What a seemingly odd statement - difficult for our Western minds to get our arms around it. We are so individualistic, and we tend to think of God's action in terms of intervention and miracles. But this statement would not have been at all surprising in its cultural context, for they understood YHWH to be God who works through history and his hand is in the details of daily life. So really, this passage is just expressing a truth that we all can observe:

The choices we make have consequences.

When people follow the instructions of the Lord - living consistent lives of loving God and loving people - and teaching their children to do so, the way God has wired human nature means that there is an excellent chance of that faithfulness being passed down. And unfortunately, the opposite is true - when children have terrible examples to follow, the results are tragic way too often.

This would be a principle that Paul in the New Testament would call "reaping and sowing" - you get what you plant. Now through Jesus we have the  amazing grace of God, which busts up the cycle and gives people from the worst backgrounds a brand new start.

I say all this to make a point about my mother. She fostered an atmosphere of love, obedience, and trusting God with the details of her life. She helped those who were in need, often without anyone ever knowing. She provided a listening ear for her children and grandchildren so that we knew someone was there who would love us no matter what, but guide us to the truth.

And, true to the passage above, I see her fingerprints on her grandchildren. Holly. Hunter. Macy. Haley. Brooke. Her grandchildren, the nieces and nephew I love so much, bear the mark of their grandmother's faith. So, there it is - to the third generation.

The hard scriptures are just as important as the easy ones. I am thankful for this one - and for my mother who lived it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment