It was a tender moment to say the least as I looked at my then 16 year old daughter’s class assignment, a paper simply entitled “My Hero”. As I read her words describing who her hero was I couldn’t hold back tears. According to Stephanie, I was her hero. Boy, I sure didn’t feel like it at times. The hours I worked late, the times I spoke unkindly to her for making too much noise or asking for what seemed like the millionth time” are we there yet?” But believe it or not, there it was in black and white right before my tear filled eyes. That thought from years gone by passed through my mind this week as sweet Kairi, who was staying the night with Terri and me, asked the question, What did you say Papaw? She merely wanted me to repeat a question I asked her, but I thought about much more. It occurred to me that she’s listening and she’s watching… everything I say and do. Not only is she watching and listening, but she’s learning… she’s learning life, from me! She’s learning from her wonderful Daddy and Mommy, Mamaw Terri, and many others, but I’m responsible for what I teach her precious little heart and mind. I’m not just interested in the powdered doughnuts she consumes on our special stops at the doughnut shop, but what she consumes from my actions, my words and my life!
In a letter Paul wrote to the church at Philippi he reminds them and us of this great truth. He says, “Brethren, be followers of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have seen us for an ensample.” Paul says in essence that you can follow our lives and our example. Can we each truly say that to our children? Is there anything you are doing now that you wouldn’t want your children to catch you doing? If so, stop it now! Be the Godly example Jesus calls you to be. Watch closely in verse 20 as Paul reminds them of their citizenship… “ for our conversation is in Heaven, from whence we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” William Barclay in his commentary in this verse eludes to the fact that Philippi was a Roman colony. Here and there at strategic military centers the Romans had set down their colonies. The great characteristic of these colonies was that wherever they were, they remained fragments of Rome. The Roman dress, Roman Government, Roman language, and Roman morals were observed. Though miles away, they remained Roman. Paul suggests, just as the Roman colonist’s never forgot they belong to Rome, you must never forget that you are citizens of heaven, and your conduct must match your citizenship. Let me ask you Dad’s, do your kids know where your citizenship lies? Do they really know who you belong to?
There’s a fascinating story that comes out of the 1989 earthquake which almost flattened Armenia. This deadly tremor killed over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. In the midst of all the confusion of the earthquake, a father rushed to his son’s school. When he arrived there he discovered the building was flat as a pancake. Standing there looking at what was left of the school, the father remembered a promise he made to his son, “No matter what, I’ll always be there for you!” Tears began to fill his eyes. It looked like a hopeless situation, but he could not take his mind off his promise. Remembering that his son’s classroom was in the back right corner of the building, the father rushed there and started digging through the rubble. As he was digging other grieving parents arrived, clutching their hearts, saying: “My son! “My daughter!” They tried to pull him off of what was left of the school saying: “It’s too late!” “They’re dead!” “You can’t help!” “Go home!” Even a police officer and a fire-fighter told him he should go home. To everyone who tried to stop him he said, “Are you going to help me now?” They did not answer him and he continued digging for his son stone by stone. He needed to know for himself: “Is my boy alive or is he dead?” This man dug for eight hours and then twelve and then twenty-four and then thirty-six. Finally in the thirty-eighth hour, as he pulled back a boulder, he heard his son’s voice. He screamed his son’s name, “ARMAND!” and a voice answered him, “Dad?” It’s me Dad!” Then the boy added these priceless words, “I told the other kids not to worry. I told ‘em that if you were alive, you’d save me and when you saved me, they’d be saved. You promised that, Dad. ‘No matter what,’ you said, ‘I’ll always be there for you!’ And here you are Dad. You kept your promise!” Are you keeping your promise? How’s the world you influence hearing you?
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach