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My parents guided me to good table manners: “Don’t talk with your mouth full” and “Use your spoon, not your fingers for the peas.”
They taught me how to act in church: “You can make the sign of the cross with your left hand.”
Social manners were important: “Be a gentleman, Jimmy, and hold the door for your mother.”
Our mothers and fathers fill many roles in our lives. Parents are creators of the family. Indeed, the Creator-God let them take up the divine job, and so join the Almighty in bringing the world to life (Genesis 1, 2).
As God himself, parents are providence to the suckling infant, the exploring toddler, the maturing youth, as they grow into the full stature of the Lord’s Image (Genesis 1, 2).
In godly fashion, parents are teacher, financial officer, physician, lawyer, judge, auto mechanic, handy person, custodian, confidant, clergy and friend.
I still recall the bedtime prayer my parents taught me:
“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. This I ask for Jesus sake. Amen.”
Reflecting during this time of Lent and Easter, I recall how my parents taught me to memorize important “things,” like my home address, telephone number, passages of scripture, funny “jokes,” stories and poems, and a raft of other “things” that pop up on my cranial-computer at odd times. Mom and Dad thought such items would stand me in good stead in later life. And they were right!
Jesus' mom and dad must have done that with him, too. Looking only at the time of his suffering, we read how Jesus was able to pull great and comforting thoughts to mind as he struggled with persecution, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” are but the opening words of Psalm 22, and its hopeful and comforting trust in God’s never-failing help (see verses 24-30). Did Jesus know the entire Psalm by heart? I think so, and others also!
His final commendation of his life to God comes from a passage the savior learned early on – “Into your hands, Father, I place my life” – were words invoking strength and hope to light his way through the deep, dark, shadowed valley of suffering and death (Psalm 31:6).
That "prayer book” that Jesus’ mom and dad encouraged him to memorize was known as the book of Psalms. Its 150 prayers continue to make themselves the word of God in our lives as we follow the Good Shepherd (Psalms 23) and find refuge and strength in our need (Psalms 46). Whatever our situation, “On the mountain top’’ (Psalms 61:2, 3) or in the valley, “God is my refuge and stronghold in whom I put my trust” (Psalms 91).
What return can we make to the gift God has given us in our parents? Perhaps taking the words of Proverbs 31:10-3l and applying them to your mom or spouse, as many do each week, would be a start. There are many of proven worth, but hasn’t your mom excelled them all? (Psalms 31:29)
Praise God from whom these blessings flow, as you commune with the savior and your parents in worship this weekend. “Honor your mother and your father, then all will be well with you, and you will have a long life” (Exodus 20:12). That’s God’s promise for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day!