So many words pour over us every week. We are plugged in to so many things. Our phones. Our computers. Our TVs and our cable connections. Do this. Read this. Eat this, go here, relax there. Buy this, give this. When the tension gets to us, we can eat or drink something to make the tension go away; if we aren’t sufficiently energized, we can gulp down a drink and get up to speed with the rest of our society. We try so hard to stay on top of everything. NewsSportsEntertainmentPoliticsWorld.
But some things are always going to be there whether we live through our electronic devices or we are simply stopped at a roadside picnic table having lunch and watching the traffic speed by. We will always need that sense of being connected and that sense of knowing that someone sees us, recognizes us, and finds us valuable.
That’s one of the takeaways from this week’s sermon by Marty on parenthood. We are modeling to our children what it means to be alive, what it means to make choices, what it means to care for others, what it means to be responsible for our choices. If we have the care of children, we are parents.
And we are showing them in what we do how to be human and loving.
It’s not the words that children need. They will get that through their schooling, their exposure to the media, their own friends. They will get this information and have to process it, and the amount of information they must handle is unfathomably greater than anything we’ve experienced, whether we are members of the Post Millennium Generation or the Post-Toasties Generation.
But they will still have the same needs as we have had through every generation: the need for love and acceptance forgiveness, the need to be shown the way; the need to be mentored and nurtured – and disciplined.
There’s no test to be a parent nor a license to rear children. We will find ourselves with the care of children whether we are on a plane with an inquisitive 2-year-old behind us batting our head with his rattle or we are in a restaurant next to a table with a 3 year old discovering the joy of free crackers. They don’t seem to care about our adulthood and our maturity. They are constantly testing us to see if who we say we are is really true.
We can tell our children about the love of God and the acceptance of anyone, anywhere, but they will watch how we act to see what those words mean. They will hear us pray for the unsaved in distant lands, but they will be curious at our actions here and now. They will let us make all kinds of mistakes and commit all kinds of failures, but they will be looking to see if we act with grace and kindness, and back up our words about salvation and compassion with the literal embrace of those who are unlovely and difficult and undeserving.
It would far easier to be a parent if all we needed to do was to memorize some words and repeat them to our children, and that they would instantly accept our words as true. It would be less intrusive if we could turn on our parenthood for a few minutes every day, check in with the kids, and then return to our own lives.
But parenthood doesn’t work that way, because we are not training animals and we are not writing essays. We are living our lives out with the full witness of our children who want to see us as real, living people in touch with a real, living God.
That is actually a great relief. They are not asking us to be perfect. They are only asking us to be models.