For all the saints…

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding. The father of a righteous child has great joy; he who has a wise child delights in them. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice.

(Prov 17.6 & 23.22-25)

For none of us lives for ourselves alone and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

(Rom 14.7&8)

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Endure hardship as discipline.. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

(Heb 11.39-12.2 & 12.7,10&11)

Ten years ago this week, my mother died. It will be fifteen years this spring since my father died. Gone, almost as if they had never been. Their house is owned by another, and their belonging largely gone. There are no monuments or trust funds in their names, no awards or philanthropic projects to perpetuate their memory. There are three adult children and four grandchildren – the latter with very patchy memories of the grandparents who died while they were still young.

And yet, I know that because my parents were christians, followers of Jesus, they live. I know that they died in full assurance of their future resurrection, and that one day I will join with them and all the other dear departed saints as we rejoice with the Lamb at the great marriage banquet in glory.

They left family members in whom their genes are perpetuated – traits of character and shared physical attributes. But they also left a legacy of loving service and investment in the kingdom which will only be fully appreciated when the Lord comes to make all things new and to reveal what He is working by his Spirit in and through us.

They left a legacy in our lives, a priceless  model of faithful living. They weren’t perfect, and we saw the struggles from the inside. They faced many challenges, and we saw how at times they were near overwhelmed. BUT we also saw how they lived in dependence on Jesus, the saviour who had won both their hearts in early adulthood, and who remained Lord of their lives through all that followed. They showed us that God’s discipline was worth enduring, and his wisdom worth treasuring more than all that this world can offer us. I was and remain so very proud of my parents, so thankful for their lives and all they taught us. I want to be that kind of parent to my own children, and pray to be a blessing and not a stumbling block to them.

The last gift that both mother and father gave us was the acceptance of God’s timing and manner of dealing with them at the end of their lives. They completely submitted themselves to the Lord, reckoning death as nothing to fear, but something to be preparing for in faith and trust. There was no complaining, no “why me, why now?” And this has left me with a great peace and acceptance in my turn that my Lord knew what he was about – I was not somehow deprived of something I needed by their deaths.

In life, as in facing death, their desire was to glorify their Saviour. It is my prayer that I too might do this, to emulate all those dear saints who have gone before in trust and obedience. My best tribute to my own parents is to follow their example, to live for and die with my Lord. May he give me grace to serve him in this way, for his glory and my blessing. Amen.

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