A recent magazine article prompted me to take a few minutes and jot down things that my parents did to nurture my faith – a good exercise and one that led me to a renewed sense of gratitude, especially now that I am looking back with adult eyes. I realized with fresh eyes all the little things they did daily and the big commitments they had made as a couple raising a family of four. The numbered items below are not exhaustive or in rank order, but rather simply list some of the more important aspects of how they nurtured my faith.
- Faith through tough times – farming itself is an act of faith that is further complicated by the unpredictable. Natural disasters, droughts and floods, unexpected losses of livestock, machinery repairs and costs, and health problems are just some of the problems faced – yet I saw a strong faith demonstrated by my parents in God’s providence and blessing.
- Commitment to their marriage – it never entered my mind as a child that my parents would leave each other, even though they had some pretty good arguments from time to time.
- Respect for creation – animals and plants were treated with care, yet each in their rightful place as compared to humans.
- Christian education K-16 – my parents were the first in their families to enroll their children in Christian day school education and took significant criticism for that decision from their families. Their hard work to get schools established in our small community remains an inspiration to me today.
- Church participation – attendance at services was regular as clockwork and participation in available groups and classes not a matter for negotiation by us children.
- Eating meals together coupled with spiritual disciplines– regular Bible reading and prayer three times a day – sometimes it seemed too much, but I do appreciate the foundational knowledge that I now have as a result.
- Always helping neighbors and sharing – my mom was always sharing from our garden and bringing food, Dad lent tools and time, and listened to hurting people on his egg route into some very high poverty areas.
- Finances – tithing and Christian education – my parents always made it clear to us that church donations and school tuition came first, and then we lived on the rest, no matter how little or much that may have been from month to month.
- Encouraged my gifts – my mom did a lot of my chores so I could participate in sports and drama. My parents were always at every performance if possible.
- Loved those with special needs – having Joe over for Sunday dinner and watching him eat was not necessarily pleasant for us kids but showed us our parent’s heart for those with special needs. Their regular Sunday afternoon visits to a home for developmentally disabled adults modeled Christ’s love. My mom still continues these singing, prayer, and Bible study visits with the residents today at the age of 88.
I encourage you to look back on your own life and consider how your faith was nurtured. Sometimes the things that at first appear mundane are very significant in nurturing and modeling the kind of faith we desire in our youth.