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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Andy and Nancy with Fern, Andy's mother
Andy and Nancy with Fern, Andy's mother

"Hidden Heroes"
Enduring Honor

Note: Stephen is not feeling well today and thus we will not prepare a podcast.

Note 2: Today's message is similar to Monday in regard to aging but Monday our focus was on a faithful spouse and enduring vows. Today we will focus on faithful children and enduring honor.

"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).

This week we are considering "Hidden Heroes"; those who faithfully serve others with no desire of gaining attention or acclaim. On Monday we considered a family's faithful journey with a husband and father who had Alzheimer's Disease. Yesterday we considered a mother, with two special needs adult children, who has essentially devoted her life to their 24/7 care. Today let us consider a special dimension in God's command that we honor our father and mother and recognize as "hidden heroes" those who are faithfully heeding this command till the very end.

For a number of years now we've seen Andy and Nancy faithfully visit his mother, Fern, at the personal care home where we serve as chaplains.
With their permission we share this message to encourage those caring for elderly parents.  Fern has grown quite frail and is fairly unresponsive at this point, quite different from the day she became a resident, eagerly interacting with others with her outgoing personality. Most residents dress daily in their comfort clothes since that's what we wear around "home", but Fern stands out in such a nice way when she wears her dressy Sunday apparel, looking like she's ready for church or is headed to work in the business world.

The aging process can be brutal for many, and as their health declines, it's all the more reason why the elderly need supportive, loving, and patient children. Many times we've seen Andy and/or Nancy sitting with Fern prompting her to eat her otherwise untouched food. At times I've (Brooksyne) sat next to her and fed her bite by bite since she has little will to eat on her own.  But Nancy will much more patiently coax her to eat, one bite after the other,  until she willingly complies since it's important that Fern not only be nourished but that she is also engaged physically in the act of feeding herself. She's pretty fond of dessert (as am I) so that food course is a little easier.  Andy and Nancy's three grown children regularly visit their grandmother which is always an enjoyable sight.

Georgia Mae Weber
Living with or caring for an elderly parent (particularly while raising your own children) is a real challenge. In the five years my mother lived with us my patience and gentleness was put to the test and I came up short too often. There were instances where I really struggled with honoring her as I knew I should. But now I look back and see that season of honoring her as a blessing that I presently miss. God was not only caring for Mom's needs through me and my family, but He was shaping and pruning me as a caregiver.

In order for us to willingly express honor toward another it must come from feelings of deep respect and devotion.  Honor denotes admiration, respect, or esteem that we have toward the individual(s). The honor we show our parents is a microcosm of our spiritual honor toward God. Failing to honor our parents, as He commands, is certainly dishonoring to Him as is any type of disobedience. On the other hand when we honor our parents it is a tangible demonstration of our honor toward God.

Ten Commandments
Of the Ten Commandments the last six deal with our behavior toward one another (the first four deal with our behavior toward God).  The first of these "horizontal" commandments is the only one of the six that is worded positively as a command rather than a prohibition. It is the only one of the Ten Commandments that includes a promise.  Fundamental to wholesome human relationships it is an essential building block in the practice of the remaining five commandments. If each generation would truly honor their parents, it would be a powerful deterrent to the breaking of the other commandments!

The breakdown in parental honor in our society is evident everywhere and will likely worsen as we continue to reap the results of violating God's holy law. A fundamental aspect in the transmission of truth and order from one generation to another is the honor shown to the older from the younger and the blessing given to the younger from the older, as evidenced often by the patriarchs in the Old Testament. So very often this is not the case.  Parents who had no time for their children will increasingly find that their grown children have no time for them. 

Are you honoring your parents today? In your conversation, in your actions, in the way your children observe your relationship toward them, or in the memories you share of parents now deceased?  God blesses those who express honor, and one day you will not only be giving it but you will also be the recipient of honor. The demonstration of the continuum of love in society's most basic unit is so fundamental.  In holding a newborn baby and the hands of our dying parents we affirm the preciousness of life. Is there a parent or loved one who needs to hear from you today, "I love you"?  Don't put it off.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, each spring as we see tiny featherless fledglings pressed tightly against their mothers in the hollow of their family nest, we're reminded of the human love children experience from their parents' safekeeping. We thank You for the love and care You extend to us through the preordained parents who sacrificially love and care for us all our days on earth. Thank You for their model of love, sacrifice, duty, protection, and other virtuous qualities seen in their parentage. Their example greatly influences the way we raise our own children.

We also pray for those whose relationship with their parent is a role reversal where they must act as the adult when their own parent behaves like a needy and at times a defiant child. May Your multiplied mercies sustain these caregivers in their ongoing stress-filled role so that, above all, You are honored and they find Your peace in the midst of the seemingly unending demands.  Father, we thank You for our human family and our spiritual family. And we thank You for our heavenly family that awaits our arrival on the other side. In the name of Christ Jesus Your Son we pray. Amen.


A STRANGER CAME BY THE OTHER DAY with an offer that set me to thinking. He wanted to buy the old barn that sits out by the highway. I told him right off he was crazy. He was a city type, you could tell by his clothes, his car, his hands, and the way he talked. He said he was driving by and saw that beautiful barn sitting out in the tall grass and wanted to know if it was for sale. I told him he had a funny idea of beauty.

SURE, IT WAS A HANDSOME BUILDING IN ITS DAY. But then, there's been a lot of winters pass with their snow and ice and howling wind. The summer sun's beat down on that old barn till all the paint's gone, and the wood has turned silver gray. Now the old building leans a good deal, looking kind of tired. Yet, that fellow called it beautiful.

THIS SET ME TO THINKING. I walked out to the field and just stood there, gazing at that old barn. The stranger said he planned to use the lumber to line the walls of his den in a new country home he's building down the road. He said you couldn't get paint that beautiful. Only years of standing in the weather, bearing the storms and scrorching sun, only that can produce beautiful barn wood.

IT CAME TO ME THEN. We're a lot like that, you and I. Only it's on the inside that the beauty grows with us. Sure we turn silver gray too...and lean a bit more than we did when we were young and full of sap. But the Good Lord knows what He's doing. And as the years pass He's busy using the hard wealth of our lives, the dry spells and the storm seasons, to do a job of beautifying our souls that nothing else can produce. And to think how often folks holler because they want life easy!

THEY TOOK THE OLD BARN DOWN TODAY and hauled it away to beautify some rich man's house. And I reckon someday you and I'll be hauled off to Heaven to take on whatever chores the good Lord has for us. And I suspect we'll be more beautiful then for the seasons we've been through here...and just maybe...maybe even add a bit of beauty to our Father's house.
  (Author unknown)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Hidden Heroes"  Video  The Talleys

"A Parent's Love"  Video  A thoughtful perspective

"A Tribute to Parents"  Video 

"The Toll That Caring For Elderly Parents Can Take"  Video

"Song To My Parents"  Video  Keith Green

Note: All of these resources are not necessarily Christian but offer what we feel is a helpful perspective.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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