As Father’s Day draws nearer, I remember some of the greatest lessons I have learnt from my parents. They have provided me with a wealth of spiritual guidance and have instilled in me a great love and fear of the Lord. The greatest commandment, to love God with all our heart, soul and strength, is given in Deuteronomy 6. Verse 7 says of these words – “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you rise by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” This is something my parents have faithfully and fearlessly done. In fact, they have testified of these things not only to their natural children (to me, and my sister) but to a far greater number of “children” as they love each one in Christ. Now that I have left the family home, I reflect on these things and I pray I will bless my future children, and many others with such an inheritance. These are just 4 lessons in faith that I have learnt from my parents.
1. It’s all about Jesus
My dad is one of the most humble, yet resilient people I know. Many times throughout my life, I’ve asked why he has chosen to make a particular decision. My dad replies, “It’s not about me, it’s all about Jesus.” He has denied himself, taken up the cross, been persecuted for the sake of Jesus’ Name, and all the while, my dad continues to forgive, to love and to uphold the faith and the standards he has in Christ. It is incredible, and I watch as he follows God’s leading in every season. He is not discouraged, he is not slowed down, but he steadily and faithfully continues to walk in God’s way. It doesn’t matter what he is doing, who sees what he is doing, or what people might think. He is willing to be shaped and transformed continuously by the Lord, and to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. How can my dad do this so faithfully and so joyfully? He is completely content in the Lord, fully satisfied by Jesus, and fully committed to serving a God who is Sovereign. My dad has demonstrated to me that it really is not about what we do, or say, but it is about the Name of Jesus. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. He has chosen to serve Jesus first, and he is not afraid of man. He loves, because Jesus first loved him. I have learnt three applications from watching my dad’s humility and boldness in God:
- Look up. Anytime I have been faced with difficulty or temptation, I remember my dad saying, “Look up”. He reminds me that my citizenship and my treasure is in heaven. Through Christ, I can endure, and I can overcome. I just have to look up!
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” [Colossians 3:2-3]
- There is no compromise when it comes to serving God, and He is worth everything. I have benefited from this as my parents poured their lives out and, I would say, sacrificed themselves many times so that I could be guided in God’s way. I thank the Lord continuously for this because they refused to relinquish their responsibility to guide me into God’s ways, and were unafraid to do this even when it hurt them, even when other parents were not doing this. My parents parented knowing that Jesus was Lord, and they were not influenced by other pressures or opinions. I can stand as testimony that their witness has borne fruit.
“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell… (v.31) Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” [Matthew 10:27-28, 31]
- Do not be narrow-minded, but let the Lord reveal all He has purposed. Practically, this has been parents’ blessing and encouragement to travel to many places, meet many people and see a greater vision of what God is doing. My loyalty lies first to Jesus and to no one else.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” [2 Thessalonians 5:16-22]
2. God’s word is irreplaceable
I cannot count the number of times I have stumbled upon my mum reading the word of God. She could be in the bedroom, at the computer, at the kitchen table, or anywhere else. It could be morning, or midday, or evening and my mum has the word of God in her hands, reading and praying through God’s divine word. My mum knows the power and the beauty of God’s word. She can’t stop joyfully proclaiming the revelation of Christ in His word, and she always encourages us to read, study and meditate upon the word of God. It is clear to me that she deeply treasures the living word of God. God’s word is irreplaceable. I need His word all through the day, and I know that His word is infallible. How can we know His ways, His desires or His plan, if we are not interested in His word? How can we hide His commands in our hearts if we do not know them?
Your testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul keeps them. The entrance of Your words give light; It gives understanding to the simple. I opened my mouth and panted, For I longed for Your commandments, Look upon me and be merciful to me, As Your custom is toward those who love Your name. Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me.” [Psalm 119:129-133]
The word of the Lord speaks of His wonderful nature, gives understanding of His ways, gives understanding of His nature, and frees us from sin. May we desire and meditate upon the word of the Lord.
3. Do it with all your strength
My parents never serve God half-heartedly. It doesn’t matter who they meet or what the need it, my parents serve with all their strength according to what they have been equipped to give. It was my mother who faithfully encouraged me not to give up on my piano, or my cello, or my medical studies but to use everything and anything I had received from the Lord for His glory. This encouragement was not driven by a need for success, but rather a spirit of worship. Indeed, I look at my life and I am sometimes overwhelmed because I know that despite myself, the Lord has blessed me abundantly. How can I repay my Jesus? How can I show my gratitude? How can I ever give Him as much as He has given me? The answer – we give God joy as we worship Him with our lives. I acknowledge God’s many gifts in my life, and I ask Him how I can use these for His glory. I will proclaim His goodness to the nations and whatever my hand find to do, I will do it with all my might. If God has given opportunity to me, how dare I despise it? Therefore, I have determined to work hard and to invest every “talent” He gives me, whether that is through study, through practicing an instrument, through preparing for an interview, through speaking with particular people or through daring to stand up for His moral values.
“Do not neglect the gift that in in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying in if hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.” [1 Timothy 4:14-15]
We have been given life, and as much as I am looking forward to eternity face to face with Jesus, I do not want to waste my life here on earth. No, I want to experience God to the fullness that He has revealed on the earth!
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” [Colossians 1:9-10]
4. The Power of Prayer
I know that prayer is effective, and that Jesus always answers. Even when I was a child, I remember Jesus answering all sorts of prayers. Now I see it even more clearly, and at a greater level. Both my parents are faithful prayer warriors. My mum is not afraid to ask for prayer, and I see her also praying faithfully for many people. My dad always prayed with me going to university exams and when I flew off to other countries. I know my parents pray for me and over me, and I know that Jesus himself intercedes for us. The cause and effect of constant prayer in the world is clear. I see how situations are changed, mindsets transformed and whole atmospheres created, all because of the power of prayer. Prayer is more than sitting with our hands clasped together and eyes closed, it is intimate, honest conversation with God. As we speak to God, he answers, he speaks and He shares what is on His heart. Never underestimate the power of prayer. There is nothing too small, or too big to share with the Lord. The old hymn, “What a friend we have in Jesus” says time and time again, “take it to the Lord in prayer,” and indeed, it is a delight to do so!
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” [Ephesians 6:18]