There’s something about the early morning hours…from, say, 5:00 to 7:00 AM. If you can manage to get yourself out of bed, you can really be on the receiving end of some quality one-on-one time with your Heavenly Father. The house is quiet. Everyone is asleep (even the dog and cat in my case :)). You still have some time before you have to get ready for work and get the kids to school. The sun hasn’t even begun to crest the horizon. That’s probably my favorite time of day. You can put on the whole armor of God in preparation for the bombardment of life.
Day 4 began that way. I woke up as I went to sleep the night before…thinking about God. It seems that sleep is much more peaceful for both Lena and me lately. Coincidence? I think not. That night, we went to Valdosta to Mom and Dad’s restaurant to celebrate our dear friends’ (Maggie and Patrick) wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful time, and during the course of the evening, this blog came up in conversation. I shared with them what God put on my heart to do, and they loved the idea. They were very supportive and looked forward to reading what God wanted me to write. I tell you this because Maggie’s faithfulness came into play the next morning.
As I was talking to God, I began by thanking Him for all He was doing in my life. It wasn’t just for the tangible things…the job, the food, the roof over our heads. Those are a given. It was also for the changes that I’ve been experiencing inside. For the changes in the relationship I have with my wife and kids. For the changes in the way I view the world around me at work and in the community. It’s an amazing feeling to walk with your Father. I pray anyone that reads this blog can know the joy, peace and excitement that comes from being with God daily.
Once I finished praying, I began to reflect on the previous messages. I knew that God had something wonderful planned for me that day, and I couldn’t wait to experience it. I started to talk things out to myself (it’s okay to do that…it’s when you begin answering yourself that you have to start worrying :)) and picked up the bible. When I did, the note card I wrote for Lena fell out. I was already thinking about how much I love my wife and kids (especially since there hadn’t been an argument since a few days before this journey began :D). I looked at the card and reread it. I signed it, “All my love.” For some reason that struck a note in me. I had also looked at my daily planner, and the Psalms was about praising God’s works. But the ghostbumps didn’t hit me when I read it and meditated on it a bit. I did, however, feel right about the card. It really got me thinking about loving my family, so I looked children up in the concordance. The first scripture listed was in Exodus and centered around the family. Hmmm…that’s something we’ve definitely been struggling with.
I think everyone dreams of falling in love, getting married, having kids and growing old with one partner for your entire life. The reality is, however, that that’s not often the case. I have such a reverence and respect for people who make their marriages last 40, 50, 60 years and more. It’s an AMAZING accomplishment that we can learn from. My first marriage lasted 14 years. Lena’s was shorter than that. Regardless of what we went through with them, and the subsequent divorces, we have four beautiful daughters from them collectively.
It’s been a challenge to say the least to blend our families together. Pride, ego, Id, super-ego (for any of you Psychology majors out there) all work together to bring about the demise before you can really build the foundation. To make matters worse, Samantha and Makayla are full-blown teenagers (16 and 13 respectively) while Caitlin is right behind them at 12. Hormones are a wonderful thing…NOT! Each has a bit of what I call the Burger King Syndrome…they want it their way. Then throw in my wife’s needs and the needs of our two-year-old. Did I mention I stay bald for a reason??? Don’t get me wrong. They’re all wonderful women, and as I stated earlier, I love them all dearly. But conflict invariably arises from giving one more attention than the others. From getting something for one and not for the others. For treating one a certain way and not treating the others the same. It sometimes feels as if I’m one of those Plastic Man dolls from the 80’s. You know the one that you can pull in all sorts of directions? I’m at the center and each one has a limb and my head and pulls. You can hopefully appreciate the difficulties. And until now, I had been trying to keep it together on my own. At least that’s what I thought.
Okay…sorry for that digression. I think it was necessary so that you understand just a fraction of a fraction of what God can deal with if you let Him. The verse in Exodus. It talks about one of the most important commandments of God…not having any idols before Him. It talks of that sin stretching across generations. That means that it can be passed down from one generation to the next…from you to your children to their children and so on…until someone breaks that cycle. And the idols can be anything people. We’re not talking about statues of Buddha or some other religious icon that you pray to. We’re talking about television. We’re talking about X-Box and Playstation. We’re talking about alcohol and drugs. Cigarettes. Money. Power. Status. Getting the picture? We’re to PUT GOD FIRST! Does that mean above your wife? Yes. Above your children? Yes. Above anything Earthly that you might want? Absolutely.
As I read that scripture, I did get a little teary, but no tingles. So I went into the bedroom to wake Lena up and read it to her. She got a lot out of it as well, and she told me to just keep praying about it. God would make apparent what He wanted me to see. After giving her a kiss good morning (that’s REAL love, by the way, when you can kiss your spouse in the morning BEFORE they have a chance to brush their teeth :D), I went into my closet to one of my thinking posts…the ironing board. I still wondered if I was on the right track. So I asked Him, “Father. If this is what You want me to get today, please show me.” About 10 minutes later, at 7:50, I got a text from Maggie…”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength.”…Deuteronomy 6:5. Holyghostbumps! Thank you, Father!
After receiving the verse, I went to my bible and looked it up. I always try to read a few verses before and after the main scripture to get the whole context of what’s being written. In this case, it went on to say,
“…And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your foreheads as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. I drive in my car talking to God. I go to bed thinking about God. I wake up thinking about God. I try to surround myself with reminders that God is always there and is always in control of my life. Does it always work? Do I never experience doubt and falter? Definitely not. I’m a human being. And as such, I have a propensity to sin as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. However, I know now how to deal with that sin. To correct the issue as it comes. And I thank God dearly for that.
Here’s what the study guide says about the verse.
“The Hebrews were extremely successful at making religion an integral part of life. The reason for their success was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented. They used the context of daily life to teach about God. The key to teaching your children to love God is stated simply and clearly in these verses. If you want your children to follow God, you must make God a part of your everyday experiences. You must teach your children diligently to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related.”
Pastor Gregory quoted another part of scripture that I can relate to this verse that was given to me a couple months ago. “As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.” What are you doing to break that sin cycle and lead your family to a better life with Jesus?
God bless. 🙂