Manual Labor

My father was never exposed to sports growing up. Now that he is in his eighties, I am appreciative beyond words of the extreme hard work he has known and done since a very, very early age. Manual labor is something that he knew and did from very early on his life. There was never time for sports. The only thing I have ever heard him say that sounded somewhat like a sport involved corn cobs.

When all the work was done, he and his brothers (he had five brothers) would take corn cobs they had saved and soak them in a barrel of water. They would divide them up, then hide and throw them at each other. That is hard for me to picture, except the pain of being hit by one! As our children grew up he would come to their games of baseball, soccer, basketball, football, tennis and golf and cheer them on! I often felt sad that he never got to play and enjoy sports. As he has grown older he has even expressed that he wished he knew sports as a participant. I can honestly say at 51, and after watching my dad for all these years, the only thing he has ever known is “work!”

On the flip side, I just read Andre Agassi’s book, “Open”. Needless to say, this book was compelling and sad. His hard work and labor was spent crafting a sport to the Highest level. To know that Andre turned pro at 16, won 8 GRAND SLAMS and had a 20 year career and then read in his book, “I never chose this life!” was sad. He revealed that his dad decided before Andre was ever born that he would be the Number 1 tennis player in the world. It amazes me. I know how hard our kids have worked at golf and the hours of dedication they have put in. Andre worked so hard, yet there was no passion within him. It was picked for him. He wore a “mask” handed to him by his father.

As I think about my dad and Andre Agassi, and the fact that they both have gotten older, I wonder what advice they might give. I think both of them, if they had their choice, would have done some things differently. I know my dad’s dad was a hard, driving man who died when I was a little girl. All that I have ever heard lets me know my dad didn’t have much of a say in decisions for his life…until much later, and neither did Andre. Even though my dad and Andre have known much success…it has really made me stop in my tracks as a parent and reflect! It has compelled me to pray more fervently that our kids would seek and live God’s designed purpose for their lives and not my “vision,” but God’s!

As a parent on the “Back 9,” knowing and experiencing Christ on a much more intimate level, the one thing I pray every day for our children is that they would “SEEK” GOD and HIS PLAN for their lives. As a parent, I encouraged our kids to “seek God”, to “know HIM” and reminded them that “HE” would guide them. But even more today, I shudder to think that “I” would dictate their lives and passions and NOT GOD.

I realize God blessed us with 3 children and they are on “Loan” to me by God. He is their Heavenly Father. HE created them and HE has the perfect plan, NOT ME! (I might add here that a “PERFECT PLAN” is not void of PAIN). There is much responsibility God entrusts to us as parents. The number one thing I can do as a parent is to let my life “reflect” being a FOLLOWER of Christ, not a FAN.

I have heard people say kids don’t come with an instruction book. I STRONGLY DISAGREE. The Bible is the “instruction book” for life and parents. For starters look at 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” And the book of Deuteronomy is filled with instruction. In chapter 12 is a list of things the people were to do. In verse 28 we are told, “Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.” Of course, we don’t sacrifice burnt offerings today, but the point is that God wants us to follow His word and He gets pretty specific at times.

As parents, if we obey God’s word, then we have the “BEST” guarantee that we have fulfilled our PURPOSE when we are given the AWESOME calling to be PARENTS. Will we mess up? Yes. The Bible addresses “mess ups” too. All kids grow up eventually. They all will have a testimony of how we did as their caregivers, teachers and examples. It is ONE OF, IF NOT, THE MOST IMPORTANT JOBS WE WILL EVER HAVE ON THIS EARTH. If God HAND-SELECTED YOU TO BE A PARENT, the very best ENCOURAGEMENT I CAN OFFER is to read God’s word. Meditate on it, Teach it. But MORE IMPORTANTLY, “LIVE IT”. BE A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST DAILY. Be an example to your children. When they grow up, they will know what being a “FOLLOWER” OF CHIRST looks like daily. IF you feel you didn’t do this when your children were underneath your roof, GOOD NEWS. It is NEVER TOO LATE.

Even though I tried to do what I thought was best, I look back and see many “GAPS” AND “MISTAKES”. GOD’s word teaches you can repent and change. I have taken the time to repent and go back to our young adult children and apologize. Asking forgiveness for the “mess ups” as a parent. I have confessed what I deem to have been mistakes and have told them the things I regret that I did or didn’t do and EDUCATED THEM on the better way. Deuteronomy 32:46-47, “he said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long…'”

For example, I didn’t parent enough “balance” in our kids’ lives. At times, the “seesaw” was on the ground, one-sided……. Looking back, I see it clearly…. I have gone to them and pointed out the “sin” there. I have learned to “Label” what I see and call things exactly what they are instead of “sugar coating it”. The GREAT NEWS is they get it. They have forgiven me and have been open to taking a look at my renewed perspective. Deuteronomy 32:2, “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.”

Don’t be afraid to HUMBLE yourself before God and your KIDS!!! Don’t be afraid to “LABEL YOUR MISTAKES”. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is to pray for God to INTERVENE on your behalf. Don’t have the wrong picture of God. He loves you/me. He came to save and redeem. He can and will REDEEM THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS HAVE EATEN AWAY.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

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