Thursday, February 13, 2014

They will follow

 On a recent family vacation, Tyler our 5 yr old and I took a long walk down the beach. The shore break was strong for him so he stayed close to me but ventured into the surf occasionally to explore his freedom. We had to navigate several large piles of coral by running in between them as the waves washed out and a shoreline littered with jellyfish (or Portuguese man-o-war). Anyone who has made contact with a jellyfish tentacle knows how much fun that is (if you haven’t, I hope you picked up on the sarcasm).
 As we started back towards where we left our stuff, I walked in the wet sand leaving a path of deep footprints. Tyler was quietly following behind me so I looked back to check on him. I watched him trying to step in each of my footprints, stretching to make it from one to the next. I was struck by the simple yet profound image of Proverbs 20:7 
 “The righteous man walks in integrity, His children are blessed after him.”
Tyler was literally walking in my footsteps just as he and his 7yr old brother Tanner do everyday whether I am intentional about my steps or wandering. 

I slowed my pace so he could keep up but got lost in thoughts of the lesson he was teaching me and forgot to look where I was stepping. A moment later I heard Tyler yell “daddy, watch out” and I stepped on a jellyfish that had washed ashore. I took my eyes off of the path and was stung... literally.  
“They gather together, they hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life.” Psalm 56:6
The enemy of our souls is lying in wait for us to take our eyes off of the path that God has set before us.

I have never taken my role as a father lightly and my love for my boys is indescribable. But like anyone, I wrestle with my selfishness at times when sacrifice is required and don’t always make the right decision. It’s easy to forget that our children are following in our steps whether we are intentional about walking the path that He has set before us or going the way that seems right to us. Prov. 14:12 says 
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s end is death.”
CS Lewis, translates this best in the Screwtape Letters, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft under foot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." 
So if we decide to allow compromise in our walk, should we be surprised if our children follow? How much more should we as parents heed the words of Jesus in Mark 9:42 
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.”
But God’s faithfulness is amazing, knowing that we all like sheep would go astray, He gave us the perfect one to follow in Jesus. 1 Peter 2:21
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:”

Father, help us to always remember to consider our steps wisely and the path we choose. Let us realize that our children are doing more than just watching us, they are walking in our footsteps. You have given us the privilege to lead them, to help them avoid mistakes we have made along the way and to show them the path of life. For you have told us in Your word that
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalm 16:11 Amen.

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