My father impressed the importance of obeying rules on me at an early age. As I grew older, he often spoke of the dangers associated with anarchy. “When a nation allows anarchy to flourish within its own borders, you can be sure it is on the decline,” he would say.
I’ll admit my dad was strict. He graduated high school during the Great Depression and witnessed the toil it was taking on people such as men selling apples in hopes of getting enough money to feed their children. But with his obsession over rules also came his advice for when it was allowed to break them. During my teenage years the war in Vietnam was debated in many ways. “You can disagree with laws and instructions in your life only if you are willing to accept personal responsibility, accountability, and the penalties that come with your decisions. Be prepared to bail yourself out and take what punishments will be meted out for your beliefs.”
Those were pretty tough instructions…and he based a lot of parental lessons around them. Had I become pregnant without being married, he would still have loved me–but there would have been no great ‘wedding’ production. If I decided that I would smoke, or come home inebriated (more than once–he also believed everyone made mistakes and the secret was to learn from your mistake) it would be in full view and, as I was ‘adult’ enough to ‘live the way I wanted’, then I had no need of his further support.
Yep, dad gave me boundaries while growing up…giving me time to test my wings and learn enough about flying before I tried zipping out of the nest. He was a smart, loving father. He’d seen enough of the world that I was to inhabit to want to give me the ability to protect myself from youthful missteps.
The young always believe they have all the answers. “IT’S DIFFERENT NOW” is the rally cray each generation tries to hawk to their elders. “We have the answers and we know what is best.”
If only that was true.
Judges 21: 25-In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
We swim in dangerous waters when we believe we know more than God. God instituted laws for our benefit just as he gave us parents to help teach us of the many worldly dangers until we are old enough to fend for ourselves.
Once we descend into anarchy where we recognize no authority but our own, we self-destruct. We may believe that we are just in taking over every facet of our lives by pretending that we answer to no one…but that only serves to illustrate just how selfish, childish, and ignorant we truly are.
Every man did that which was right in his own eyes spells danger.
Changing that to: Every man and woman did that which was right in God’s eyes would impact our world with positive change.
Wisdom begins with us. If each attempts to follow God’s rules, understanding that they were put there for our protection, we will grow as examples of God’s loving kindness and forgiveness…