Honor your parents and reap the rewards of obedience

The way we treat our parents can be an indicator of the respect we have for God Himself. Others also observe how we treat our parents, including our own children. Let them learn from our example. If you are blessed to have one or both parents still with you, YOU ARE BLESSED.

The Bible is crystal clear about how we are to treat our parents.

Ephesians 6:1-4 echoes the words first found in the Book of Exodus: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Vanessa and I have long sought to give honor to our parents.

Our fathers, Jewel Lockett and Walter Hall, have passed into eternity. We miss them, but we are so grateful that God allowed us to spend quality time with them in their latter days and to show and tell them we loved them.

God has blessed us to have our mothers still with us in their eighties. We fully recognize the need to value the time, for all of our days are finite. There will come a time when I can no longer pick up the phone and call my mother, Flora. There will come a time when Vanessa can no longer pick up her mother, Zelma, and take her on one a road trip that her mother loves.

We have learned to cherish the days.

For one weekend each month, Vanessa and I have the pleasure of “hosting” her mother at our home. We count it an honor that she still enjoys spending time with us at age 86.

Typically, Vanessa fills her day with a road trip. Last month, we went “antiquing” and had a great time. They don’t spend a lot of time at home, but when they do, there are one of three things that will be on the television when it’s on: Jimmy Swaggart or his son Donnie, or the praise group associated with Jimmy Swaggart Ministries. 2. Wintley Phipps. (Her mother loves his deep baritone.) 3. Cowboy movies - John Wayne. Gary Cooper. Black and white. Lots of fistfights and shooting.

It makes her mother happy, so I’ll watch too. But I confess that there are times when I just can’t take another note from Wintley or another gunfight from the Duke (John Wayne). I’ll step out but I always come back in. She’s worth it.

As my mother-in-law gets older, I still retain this picture of an amazingly vibrant woman who woke up at 3 a.m. each morning to read her Bible, who walked up to 5 miles in the mornings, and who played the nursing role of Florence Nightingale for so many of us.

Vanessa and her sisters rotate weekends in tending to their mother's needs. One of the sisters is the primary caregiver and another has charge of keeping her affairs in order. I admire them greatly for how they coordinate their efforts and take such good care of her.

She can be feisty and fussy, but she’s such a precious soul and they honor her. Doctor and dentist appointments, keeping her on schedule with her meds, keeping her hair neat, making sure she eats, making sure she’s dressed well. It’s a beautiful thing to witness and be a small part of.

When I was in college, I made it a point to call my mother every Sunday. We’d talk and laugh and have a merry ol’ time. I still remember one specific Sunday conversation 40-plus years ago when she said to me with concern in her voice, as only mothers can, “Son, you sound thin! Are you eating?”

As time has passed, I call her more frequently. We still laugh, just like we did in the “old days” when I was that poor college student trying to find my way.

As I spoke with my mother earlier tonight, she asked me to help her find out about a $40 charge that showed up on her bill that she didn’t remember. I made a three-way phone call and called the number she gave me. Sure enough, the charge was legitimate. She had bought a denim skirt and had forgotten. She’s aging, turning into her mother, right before my eyes.

While we are thankful for God’s gifting our mothers with longevity, we find ourselves challenged with our fond remembrances of “the way they were.”

The way we treat our parents can be an indicator of the respect we have for God Himself. Others also observe how we treat our parents, including our own children. Let them learn from our example. If you are blessed to have one or both parents still with you, YOU ARE BLESSED.

So what if your parents don’t "deserve" honor?

If your parents acted in dishonorable ways, you are still called to honor them. Yes, there are heinous acts that cannot be wiped away or easily moved past. But with God, all things are possible. Through the spiritual act of forgiveness, the act of consistent prayer, and leaning not on our understanding, God can change hearts. Showing the love of Jesus to someone who wronged you is a great demonstration of God’s power to heal and to change.

There will someday come a Judgment for us all. Make no mistake, we are saved by Christ alone but don’t we owe it to our King to be the very best humans we can be? If you are privileged enough to have one or both parents still with you, take the time to appreciate them!

What I have learned over time is one of the greatest needs our mothers have – and the elderly in general – is not more “stuff.” It’s hearts and ears that are inclined to engage with them, to really listen, even if they’re not using words. Also, they need us to be patient with them as they move a littler slower. They need a little more hand-holding. We can bless our parents in these ways. Someday, we may walk in those very same footsteps.

For those of us who still can, let's honor our fathers and mothers and reap the rewards of obedience.

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