As they rode to Pastor Cortez’ office, Edna and Brent were nervous. Brent Jr. just sat sullenly, staring ahead, not happy about the whole idea, much preferring to stay home and watch some silly show on television. (His grandfather, watching that show for a while with him, once asked him , “Well, son, what do you think those young people think is the reason they’re alive?” “I have no idea,” the boy had answered, but it prompted him to start thinking: Why am I on this earth?)
When they arrived at Cortez’ office, he greeted them warmly, trying to put them at ease. “I’m so glad you both could make it, and I’m glad you brought your son along. You’re Brent Junior, right? So glad you came, too! First off, I want to say I understand the struggles you’re going through as a family. Back when I had just finished Bible college, and we were just starting our family, I went to work in a Korean factory for a year, but we were miserable, so when I came home on vacation, I refused to go back.”
“So, what did you live on, then, growing your family and all?” Brent asks. “Well, it wasn’t easy. I tried driving a taxi for a while. I know it sounds like an old cliché, but somehow the Lord provided, as I went about starting a church. My wife was teaching, and that helped, and her mother looked after our little girl. Plus I reminded myself of the Lord’s words, Seek first His kingdom. . . and all these things will be added to you as well.”
Edna says, “I’m glad! I know a pastor who let his wife go work in Hong Kong, while he stayed here and took care of their three-year-old daughter.”
Cortez replies, “Well, the Scriptures state that both mother and father need to be in their children’s lives. Long distant “love”, even by FaceBook or Skype, just doesn’t do the job. Touch, hugs, in-person guidance and encouragement are SO important! For instance Proverbs 1:8-9 says: Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you; never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee. Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair, like rings on your fingers.
“This a theme through much of Proverbs: God saying that The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and this is to be instilled in children not mainly by us preachers and Sunday school teachers, but by parents, fathers especially. By “fear” is meant not so much being scared of God—which could keep us from approaching Him in prayer—vs. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” as James says, to take Him seriously.
“I know a woman, Paula Sandford, who with her husband has had a powerful inner-healing ministry. She said that she used to feel closest to God on weekends. Why? Because when she was small her father was a traveling salesman who’d only be home on weekends. Also a psychologist, Paul Vitz, studied many atheists, and found out that most of them did not have a father, or had one who was difficult to relate to.”
“Wow, that’s scary,” said Brent. “Yes,” said Cortez. “Shall we explore it more next week? Meantime, Happy New Year!”