Parental Advice…Who Needs It?

Photo credit here. 

S (Scripture): Isaiah 63:15 Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and glorious perch. Where are your energy and your might,
your concern and your pity?  Don’t hold back!
16 You are surely our father, even though Abraham doesn’t know us, and Israel doesn’t recognize us. You, Lord, are our father;
your reputation since long ago is that of our redeemer.
17 Why do you lead us astray, Lord, from your ways? Why do you harden our heart so we don’t fear you? Return for the sake of your servants
the tribes that are your heritage!
18 Why did the wicked bring down your holy place?  Why did our enemies trample your sanctuary?
19 For too long we have been like those you don’t rule, like those not known by your name.

O (Observation):  God’s people, in a time of great desperation and feeling abandoned by God, call out to God.  They have never known Abraham or Israel (Jacob) directly, yet they feel a great kinship to these legendary people of faith…like the Lord is still their mutual Father.   

Isaiah calls on God to uphold the reputation as their redeemer.  God’s people feel as if God has abandoned them.  What if perhaps God has let them rule themselves for a while…not abandoning them…simply letting them rule themselves for a bit.   Perhaps it would seem as if God abandoned them…but really God may have just been waiting for the invitation to rule this stubborn people again, once they’ve seen they cannot rule themselves.  

A (Application):   What does it take to tell your parents: “You were right”?   How much pride does one have to swallow before allowing the parents’ wisdom to sink in?   

About 19 years, in my case : )  Now, don’t get me wrong…I obeyed my parents and I’m the goody-goody…but I also resisted much of the advice of my parents, until I was about 19…and a junior at Georgia Tech.  

My parents love me and raised me right.   They brought me to a faith community in the two main places I grew up: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, and All Saints Lutheran Church, Lilburn, GA.   In those places, my faith was shaped and developed.  I entered many sacred spaces via these faith communities, and I learned a lot about how good and how destructive faith communities might be.  

In all, I learned of God’s favor, and I learned how to listen to God’s callings in my life.  

But until I was 19, I didn’t really, truly appreciate what my parents had to teach me about money and independent living.  I racked up lots of debt and I’m sure it tortured my parents to watch that.   But they knew I had to go and venture out.  Their wisdom was that I would need to venture out and explore how to apply my upbringing into my own independent living.  

I finally accepted and appreciated more and more of their advice.  They never abandoned me…they simply let me embrace my independence.   I realized, though, that I would never be truly independent from them, since I carry my upbringing with me and their wisdom, wherever I go.   Our memories we have made, and the memories we have still yet to make, will be treasured in my heart.  

And now, my wife and I hope to pass on our faith and wisdom to our children.   Let’s see how long it takes them to appreciate whatever wisdom we have collected and now are blessed to pass on : )

P (Prayer):  Lord, you never abandon us…help us to see your presence all around us.  Amen.  


God…Where Are You?


S (Scripture): Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I groan in prayer, but help seems far away…
22:19 But you, O Lord, do not remain far away! You are my source of strength! Hurry and help me!…
22:22 I will declare your name to my countrymen! In the middle of the assembly I will praise you!…
22:27 Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to him!Let all the nations worship you!
22:28 For the Lord is king and rules over the nations.
22:29 All of the thriving people of the earth will join the celebration and worship; all those who are descending into the grave will bow before him, including those who cannot preserve their lives.

O (Observation): Over the last several days I’ve been reading Psalm 22. The author turns from feelings of despair, feeling that God has abandoned him, to the point of praising the Lord by the end of the psalm.

What a remarkable transformation!

Something is triggered into the psalmist’s memory. Perhaps something he was told as a child. Perhaps a prior experience has surfaced, in which The Lord has acted to save this psalmist.

In any case, despair turns into hope for this author. For this, we give thanks.

A (Application): When was the last time you were scared that God had abandoned you? When you or someone you love were hospitalized? When you failed a test? When you lied to someone? When you did something you weren’t supposed to?

Whatever the thought or act, we come to the realization that sin abounds. The devil prowls around, like a roaring lion, seeking whom he will devour. That can make us feel like God has abandoned us. And it’s a common experience for us.

The tricky part about living a life of faith, is dealing with the fact that we live in the “already/not yet” time. God has already come to us in Jesus, though the Kingdom has not yet come in its fullest form.

We see moments of grace, kairos (God) moments, when God’s Kingdom comes breaking in. Sometimes that looks like healing. Sometimes that looks like grace in the midst of our failures.

God has not abandoned us. God has formed an everlasting covenant with us, made sure in our baptism.

Have you been baptized? If not, I would encourage you to strongly consider this gift of baptism, a reminder that you are claimed, loved, and equipped, and sent into the world to love God and to love neighbor. And God will NOT abandon you, though the devil might make you think otherwise.

P (Prayer): Gracious and ever-present Lord, show us signs of your grace and mercy, that our faith might be strengthened. And when we feel like you’ve abandoned us, show us a double potion of your grace and be patient with us. Amen.