ISSUES OF FAITH: Say ‘Here I am’ to God

AT ONE POINT, many years ago, my wife and I had five teenagers living under our roof.

Honestly, the memories are a blur.

We ate a lot of spaghetti and garlic bread (I make a great sauce) and tried every night to have dinner together at our dining room table.

We weren’t saints as parents, my wife and I, but I know we put everything into it.

Kids grow fast and you adjust as parents to meet constantly changing wants and needs.

“No” becomes a big part of your vocabulary and kids aren’t bad at developing strategies for getting what they want.

Mom and dad better be on the same page or kids recognize that “a house divided will not stand.”

Even good kids aren’t immune from working both sides of the aisle.

Parents should be their child’s biggest advocate.

Friendship might come later with your kids, but that can’t be the goal.

You raise your kids to be independent, a little bit of irony there.

To be independent one has to be responsible, honest, hard-working and preferably a nice person.

It’s the job of parents to try and instill this in a child, which is why parenting is the hardest and most important job in the world.

As the family goes, so goes our society.

Some of the more emotionally powerful stories in the New Testament feature a parent begging Jesus to touch their child.

We see a little girl raised from the dead and the epileptic boy, miracles because parents pushed through the crowds on their child’s behalf.

It’s interesting because Jesus at times appears to want to be left alone.

In Mark 7:26 the Syrophoenician woman “begged” Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

Jesus relented and restored the girl.

The story of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, should be well known.

For many, many years she prayed for her son who had an intellect and will contrary to God.

Anyone with a wayward child, who aches for their child, should pray as St. Monica did.

In the case of Solomon in the Old Testament we see somewhat the opposite, while God punished parent and subsequently child for worshipping something other than God.

In 1 Kings 11:4-13, we are told that Solomon, son of David “did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

Solomon broke his covenant with God.

It’s that free will thing again.

God gives us everything as well as free will.

Solomon’s choices affected the next generation.

“I will deprive you of the Kingdom,” God tells Solomon, but will not do this “during your lifetime, however, for the sake of your father David; it is your son whom I will deprive.”

It is really the story of our own lives.

Do we worship God, or something else?

For those who might see God as just a disagreeable father, think about it.

We have free will, just as our children do.

If we teach them the right way to do something and they choose otherwise, there are consequences.

One of our daughters took something to school once that she really liked, but that we had told her not to take.

A couple of weeks went by and we inquired about this thing because we hadn’t seen it.

She admitted that she had taken it to school and lost it there.

Unfortunately for her, perfect justice.

But you hopefully learn something by that, and she certainly couldn’t blame mom and dad.

Solomon had the kingdom in his hands but when he turned to “strange gods” this not only affected him, but his son down the line.

To quote Ronald Reagan: “The big decisions are simple. That doesn’t mean they’re easy.”

We know intuitively and within our heart the right thing to do, with ourselves and our children.

But this can be much tougher to enact.

Often, I picture myself standing before God and coming to immediate terms with the decisions I’ve made and the words that accompanied them.

Recently, I was by my mother’s bedside as she breathed her final breath.

What do you see right now, mom? I wondered.

We will know in time.

It is the season of Lent, a great time to grow closer to God (there is never a bad time).

God is a merciful God.

Humility is very attractive to God, and you must allow yourself (free will again) to hear his voice.

Samuel at first didn’t recognize the voice of God thinking that Eli was calling him instead.

God’s voice must have sounded somewhat “normal” or natural, and that’s a great thing.

God is real.

He longs to hear your voice, and like Samuel say, “Here I am.”

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim. His email is [email protected]

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