Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12

 

One wintery day in December 1995 an unexpected letter arrived, addressed to “Miss Heather L. Menges”.

It changed everything for me.

Having denied my three prior enrollment attempts, the college of my dreams had a change of heart… I had been accepted for the spring term of 1996!  As I read and re-read that parcel, my hands shook.  And as she danced around the kitchen laughing and crying with me, my mom was already hatching a plan to celebrate.

A few hours later, we were seated at one of my favorite restaurants for a special dinner, which was to be followed by Pittsburgh’s rendition of the Nut Cracker Suite, with tickets she’d purchased in the blink of an eye.  Our family didn’t have a lot of disposable income, so this evening was no small sacrifice.  I could hardly believe any of it was actually happening.

Problem was, while we ate crepes Suzette for dessert, our town was being pummeled with one of the most insane snow storms the area had ever seen.  Exiting the restaurant, mom watched my eyes growing dim as I realized there was no way we were getting into the city for the Ballet that evening.

Undeterred by the inclement conditions, she’d hatched yet another plan.  She looked at me and said, “I have an idea”…

The car crept through sheets of snow to our nearby mall.  It was an unplowed white ghost town, but we snuck in just before they locked the doors.  We ran through buying comfy oversized flannel PJ’s, toothbrushes, and all manner of candy treats.  Then, braving the weather once more, she managed to get us to one of the best hotels in the area and booked us a King Suite (!).  We watched On Demand Rom-Coms all night.  And every once in a while, when she couldn’t hold her enthusiasm in anymore, my mom paused the show, looked at me, and screamed, “YOU GOT IN!!!!”.

It was one of the best nights of my life.  She didn’t just love me that day, she honored me.

Behavior like this comes more naturally to a parent.  But God directed this commandment towards the children precisely because He knew it would come much less intuitively to us.  And it’s incredibly important to God that we work to get it right.  Why?

Because the relationship we have with our parents is a training ground for our relationship with Him.

It’s a complicated situation though, isn’t it?  Often, we are less patient, less tolerant, and less forgiving of our parents.  By default, we’re less mature than our elders — particularly our parents — but we need to have more grace, more understanding, and more respect for them than any other.  Whether it’s their minor “isms” and idiosyncracies that get under our skin or the much more complicated pain from an abuse or abandonment… we struggle.

And we should expect it to be hard because things that matter to God, matter to Satan.  Through the centuries, the enemy has targeted and torn down this relationship so effectively that we scramble to find examples of what honoring our parents God’s way looks like.

But Isaac was a young man who got it … In one of the most nail-biting stories told in Scripture, God said to Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Exodus 22:2

As they made their hike, Isaac carried the wood and his father carried the fire and the knife…

Then, “When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.  He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven … Do not lay a hand on the boy… Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Exodus 22:9-12

This historical moment is about more than a father who proved his great faith in God that day.  Isaac was much younger and stronger than his dad, and he’d most certainly discerned the objective of their mission before passing the point of no return.  Indeed, Abraham did not force his son onto that alter.  Isaac got on it and ALLOWED himself to be bound.  He honored is father.

Not an easy move.  And God values it all-the-more because He gets it.

Jesus Christ, God’s only son, also carried his own wood in the form of a cross, up a hill and He ALLOWED himself to be bound on an alter.

Unlike the fate of Isaac, however, this sacrifice wasn’t rescued in the final seconds.  Jesus was killed.  God saved the world because His son HONORED Him enough to be nailed to a cross.  And Jesus did this for us because His Father asked it of Him.

Ironic that this example is also the reason we have forgiveness when we go astray within this paradigm.  So we need to practice HARD at getting it right.  How we treat our parents is a reflection of how we treat our Father in heaven.

Honoring is bigger in deeds than in words, but words are what I have today…

Lutricia Lynn Menges: You expose your tender heart to people who often mishandle it because you can’t help but LOVE and DO all things FULLY (even when it hurts).  The sheer scope of things you do exceedingly well is a treasure trove of delights to the Father.  Your humor is healing.  Your extreme kindness unmatched, and your pockets full of fairy dust, inspiring.  I pray I can honor you, by allowing you to simply BE YOU, and giving you a platform to do it even better.

Robert Wallace Menges:  You are not a squeaky wheel.  With quiet strength and unwavering conviction you stay the course.  You need no spot light and search for no recognition.  Speaking negatively of no one, you find grace for everyone.  The most faithful of friends, you sacrifice generously and request sparingly.  You’re gifted at caring for details — from hearts to homes.  You’ve made knowing God easy for me, because you reflect Him so brilliantly.  You deserve honor if for no other reason than never having asked for it.

I love you both easily and I desire to honor you with increasing intention.  Thank you for showing me grace while I’m still learning. 😉