HALF FULL AND HALF EMPTY                                                                                                  Andy Hollifield 10-9-18

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I thought the verse in Proverbs was appropriate especially for today. At around 6:12 AM on this date in 2007, half of the couple responsible for my existence went to his reward. Let me begin by clarifying something about this scripture. It says: “When he is old he will not depart from it.” “Depart” simply means to go away or to leave. I can speak from experience when I say that it does not say that your child will not wander. Some will wander to the point that they will try to indulge themselves in every ungodly thing they encounter. Rest assured though, “When he is old” it will be what he clings to if he ever had it to start with. When you are a born again child of God, you can never find contentment anywhere except in the will of God. Your child may “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” as stated in Hebrews 11:25. In the end it will be what was instilled into him, or her, in their formative years that they will return to.

The reason that I mention all of this is so that parents can be encouraged even when their kids aren’t doing what they should be. Jesus spoke of leaving the 99 sheep to go search for that one that had lost his way. It was still one of his sheep even though it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. From what I read, a good shepherd will sometimes have to break the leg of a wandering sheep and then carry it for weeks after he has bound up the leg. During that time of brokenness, he is constantly listening to the shepherd’s heartbeat and getting one on one care from the shepherd for his every need. In most cases even after the leg is healed, that sheep will want to stay right with the shepherd because of the bond that was formed between them. The fact that the shepherd cared enough to come where they were to bring them back and care for them will eventually ring up on them, but maybe not until the Lord has had to break their will to wander. There may be long-lasting consequences for the time spent in sin but that will always be a reminder to them of the importance of staying with the shepherd.

I guess the reason I mention this is because I know that at times I frustrated my mom and dad. There were times I am sure that I made them wonder what more they could have done. The fact is that my wandering had absolutely nothing to do with their care in raising me. They followed the instructions in Proverbs. I was raised with rules and standards but just wanted to see the fun I thought others were having. I was made to go to church at least three times a week. I like to say I had a drug problem before it was fashionable. I was drug to church whether I wanted to be or not. Even until I got married at nearly 27, dad would always ask where I had went to church and I told him. I had that much respect for my parents and honored him that much. Sixteen and eighteen were just numbers around our house. It was still “dad’s roof and dad’s rules.” As long as I was under his roof I was required to follow those rules. If those rules got to cumbersome, I was free to leave and get my own roof. The rules changed as we got older and more responsible.

The result of my raising was that at the time of my dad’s passing, he was my best friend. He was my source for advice to the problems of life that I couldn’t figure out. His first question was always, “Have you prayed about it?” A lot of times I just needed that reminder. He may not have been perfect but he followed the Lord the best he could and led by example. We had a lot of opportunity to talk over the years and sometimes I would sit and talk for hours even when nothing was wrong. The reason for that close relationship was because he never compromised on his belief in the principles of God’s word. He would fight tooth and nail for us when we were right and would always tell us when we were wrong. When I was young, I would sometimes get mad because I got in trouble and would throw some clothes in a pillowcase and decide to run away. A couple of months later when I happened to see them in my closet, I unpacked them. I realized that I couldn’t run away because all my family would have called and told him where I was and he would have come and got me. I learned to be submissive by getting my will broke.

I could go on because he was the most genuine godly man I know. You always knew where you stood with him but he never let a difference of opinions hinder his love in any way. The reason for the title is this: I will never be able to celebrate this day but I will always commemorate it. My life is well over half full because of how he raised me and the example he set. It is also well over half empty because of the missing him that I always live with and especially think about on this day. The godly example that him and mom lived in front of us day in and day out has been the rudder of my ship and still is. It has guided the course of my life and those same principles still do. There were times that I ignored those examples and I suffered because of it. Those times were in no way a reflection of my raising.

You may be having to deal with those rumors or phone calls about what your kids are into. You may be pulling your hair out wondering why they won’t listen. They’re listening. When you say things in love and don’t provoke them, they are heard. Those are the things that will make your child’s life well over half full. Don’t compromise a godly example because it will cost you their respect. Like the old saying says, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” Another old saying says, “You don’t drive sheep; you lead them.” Don’t leave their lives half empty because of lack of a godly example. Live in a way that when the time comes; their emptiness will be from being without you and your example and wisdom, and their fullness will be from having had you in their life. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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