Friday, July 29, 2011

This Little Light of Mine

Today's passage:  I Samuel 3
     "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."  Exodus 27:20
     Eli had become an ineffective priest.  He had become a permissive father.  God had already told him that He would take away the priesthood from his sons because of their ungodly behavior.  One might argue, "But they were adults, what could Eli do?"  He could have stripped them of their priesthood, he could have made them pack their bags and participate in their wickedness elsewhere. Maybe he was oblivious to all that his sons were doing, but if he was, then he neglected to find out.  As parents, we must be vigilant.  We must not always trust our child's words, we must observe their actions.  I know this is sometimes easier said than done, and since I do not have teenagers or young adults yet, it would be easy to dismiss this bit of advice, but if I remind myself of this now, hopefully I will follow through when those times actually come.
     Growing up, if I were ever to misbehave in school, my mother always sided with the teacher.  Always.  I didn't know until I was an adult that she didn't care for a particular elementary teacher of mine.  She never let on that she disagreed with her.  I always knew that if I got in trouble in school, I got in trouble at home.  Why isn't it like that today?  Teachers are not perfect.  They make mistakes.  But children should never know that parent and teacher are not in agreement.  Children should never be aware that Mommy and Teacher are not on the same page.  When we take up for our children in every matter, they soon learn that their behavior is excusable.  I'm not saying we should never be advocates for our children.  But if we choose to step in on their behalf, it should be minimal, and the child should not be aware of it.  I've watched several children grow up.  I've noticed something.  Children whose parents made excuses for them, many times,  are still making excuses.  Our children will never be perfect.  But we should never excuse bad behavior.  They should always know consequences are down the line.  We should show mercy on occasion, because God is merciful with us, but not every time. 
     I'm afraid Eli made excuses for his sons.  And now it was harvest time.  God made it clear that Eli's family would no longer claim the priesthood.  The lamp of God had gone out in the tabernacle.  It went out literally and symbolically.  The priests were instructed to keep the lamp lit at all times, but Eli has allowed it to extinguish.  He had not performed his duties as a priest should.  The light had gone out in the tabernacle and in Eli's family.  God would be judging them for their misconduct very soon.  This is the message He had already given Eli, and it is the message He repeated to young Samuel. 
Samuel Tells Eli that he heard him calling--Taken from Standard Bible Readers, Book Two
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
 Standard Publishing Company, 1925
Eli was not surprised by Samuel's message.  In fact, he seems almost resigned, "It is the LORD:  let him do what seemeth him good."  I can almost see Eli flopping down in a chair with a sigh as he says this.  He has a well-there-is-nothing-I-can-do-about-it-now attitude.  And there probably isn't.  But what could he have done about it sooner?  Perhaps he had taken many measures to correct his sons' behavior, and God just didn't see fit to show us this, but why would they still be priests?  They should not have been in that position if they were not falling in line with Dad's (and God's) rules.  Eli should have confronted them, but sometimes as parents, we are too weak.  Our weaknesses show in the lives of our children, and since we all have faults, our kids are walking billboards, advertising every flaw in our lives.  What faults of mine will my children take with them?  If I see them now, I better try to do something, while they are still at home, while I still have influence on them.  If I leave them uncorrected, their little light may be snuffed out, and the fault would be mine.

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