Faith Begins With Acceptance

Effective faith-talk is as much about listening and receiving as it is about talking and giving. All of us are growing in our relationship with Christ, and no one has all the answers. Accept your children and the unique gifts that God has given to them. God has a purpose and plan for them — and His plan may not be the same as your plan for their lives.

In the same way, children need to learn to accept their parents as the people God has given them to shape and mold their lives. You’re not perfect, but you should stress to your children that God commands that they accept and love you. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' — which is the first commandment with a promise — 'that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth' " (Eph. 6:1-3).

My mom and dad have been lifelong examples of this to me. From the day I was born, my parents accepted the call that God had on my life. When I felt God leading me to take a year off after high school before going to college, my parents accepted my decision. They rejoiced when I graduated from college. And they accepted each call I received in ministry — even the call to pastor a church in California, which meant taking their one and only granddaughter 2,000 miles away!

However, it was on one of the darkest days in my life that I felt their acceptance the most. I'd just finished the last final of my sophomore year in college. My car was packed and I was ready to make the 90-minute drive home. My roommate asked me to join him at the campus bar for appetizers and a beer before I left. Before I knew it a few hours went by — and a few beers as well. As I prepared to leave, my roommate admonished me to stay because he thought I'd had too many drinks to drive. But I ignored him and went on my way.

As I headed out of town, a police officer turned on his lights and pulled me over. When he came to the window, he asked me to get out of the car. Eventually, I was asked to take a breathalyzer test. When the police officer read the results, he told me to put my hands behind my back, because I was being arrested for DUI. Later that evening, as I sat in a cell room, I was overcome with the feeling that I'd let my parents down. I would have to tell them what happened.

I was allowed to make one phone call, but I couldn't bring myself to call my parents. So I called my sister in Chicago, and all we did was cry together. I was completely humiliated and devastated, and I didn't sleep at all that night. The next morning, I was released.

The 90-minute drive home turned into a three-hour drive. I couldn’t bear the thought of facing my parents. When I pulled into the driveway, I couldn't even get out of the car. I was ready to hand them the keys and take whatever punishment they wanted to give me.

Then something happened that I never expected. My mom and dad came running out of the house to the car, opened the door, wrapped their arms around me and said, "Mark, we love you so much! We're glad you're OK. Come in — we have a big meal waiting for you. We love you, and we’ll help you get through this."

I think at that moment, for the first time, I really understood the unconditional love of God. I realized that my parents not only accepted me in the good times, but they also accepted me in my lowest times.

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