In any case, my two loving parents were devout Christians, firm in their faith and their intentions of bringing up their children to have an appreciation of that. I don’t feel they forced their faith on me, they were not that way inclined, but they did exercise their responsibility as parents in ensuring we were looked after as best they could. That meant respecting them as our parents and abiding by what they said. Whenever we abided, we were fine and enjoyed life at home, whenever we strayed from it then there were necessary consequences that we had to face – they actually got worse as we grew up, not in terms of intensity or abuse, but in the sense that they would lift their hand of protection and allow us to suffer some of the deeper consequences to appreciate the value of abiding.
Reflecting on it now as a 31 year old father of three with two young daughters with boundless energy and an equal capacity to be ‘fresh’ (negative) as well as ‘sweet’ (positive) I appreciate the methods of my parents all the more.
I think I was around 10 years old and we were living at 128 Albert Road in the pleasant town of Wellingborough. There we were living the usual routine of school in the weekdays and church on the Saturdays and domestic stuff on Sundays before the Sunday night meeting. It was very rare when we were not at church on a Saturday. It was one of those rare occasions that saw us at home for some reason.
Dad had to go somewhere, which left Mum having to look after her three children. Seeing the opportunity for real freedom and fun we proceeded to create a growing amount of chaos that got to the extent that Mum put her foot down. When Mum put her foot down, even Ruth (the oldest member of the three of us) took notice. As we had transgressed this day of rest with our antics and our foolishness, our Mother set us about the task of doing something more constructive with our time. As well as memorising the Ten Commandments we also had to memorise Psalm 1 and by memorise she meant word-for-word perfect as seen in the good ol’ KJV (because at the time we were of the belief that the good Lord only spoke in the language of Shakespeare).
For hours we were consigned to our bedrooms to complete the task. It was not straightforward – as it was a word for word deal, we couldn’t afford to let anything slip and whenever we tried it off, our Mother, who wasn’t the world’s most literate person was still sharp enough to notice and so it was back to the drawing board. It took the rest of the afternoon to get it done and dusted and by that time the energy was expended and we were going to be of no mischief to our beleaguered mater. At the time we considered it to be punishment in hindsight it’s one of the best things my Mother’s ever done for us
Years passed. I developed a love for drama which required the skill of learning a script by heart, a skill I’d picked up through that episode. I developed a love for philosophy and politics. I grew and did the GCSE’s, A-levels and degree at university. I settled in London and then moved to Stoke-on-Trent. In all the growth and development the Psalm grew in me and I grew to have a greater appreciation for it. When Kevaughn entered my life, one of the few decent things I did in establishing relations with him in the beginning was go through Psalm 1 and get him into appreciating that life is all about being what God-like and what God-no-like and how that life is established. When I got into relationships with fellow travellers with Christ I would often refer to this Psalm as a point of mutual discovery and benefit.
As you would have noticed I feel compelled to come back to a Psalm within which the foundations of life itself can be found. It is a straight talk about people who enjoy their lives and people who don’t. It’s about the company you keep and the passion that drives you day and night. It will either lead to continuing to enjoy life with God eternally or being like the ‘chaff the wind drives away’.
Coming out of a month where it was looking at Proverbs and understanding the key principles and practical tips to managing life well and in the larger context of my life being destined to do good works that Jesus has already prepared for me, then this month and this season is really all about intentionally pressing into what it is to live a life that finds itself succeeding in any endeavour I go on. What is it to have evergreen leaves and to be thoroughly replenished regardless of the season? So I’ll be spending some time along with LJN just going over what lessons can be learnt from this key Psalm.
For His Name's Sake