Monday, April 23, 2012

Choosing to Honor

I never knew the Stephens,
but the choices they made were pivotal to me being here today.
They are my Great, Great Grandparents.
Many years ago they chose to homestead a place in southern Arizona.
Back then it was bustling. They came here for a better life, a new start.
What they found was virgin land with possibility.
To me their part in my story is precious.
They had a general store and a farm with an apple orchard.
Back then you did what you had to do, you worked hard. Up with the sun...

My Great Grandparents were part of that dream as well,
but their dream was stopped short
 by a great flu epidemic that swept the nation at that time.
They died,
leaving very small children behind,
and their name.

Hard decisions had to be made.
So many mouths to feed.
What to do?
Not only did my Great, Great Grandparents have to bury
their daughter and son-in-law,
they had to decide what to do with the children, one just an infant.
As was the case many times back then,
the children were dispersed between various relatives
so the burden of more mouths to feed was not left to just one family.
My grandfather was then essentially raised by his grandparents.
It was a hard life.
But he was sheltered and fed
and my great great grandfather taught him how to be a man.  
I never knew my Great Great Grandparents,
 but I am so thankful they were there
to take in a scared little boy who lost both parents and needed a home.

Once a year we take time to Honor these brave souls who lived a very hard life,
to give later generations a better life.
They deserve honor.
I may not agree with some of the things they did, or even how they lived.
But, without them and their dream, I would not be here.
They deserve honor.
I honor my past. Those that came before me.
Their blood, sweat and tears built up a family line.
They deserve honor.
There may have been pain, disagreements, anger,
disappointment, depression, hunger, sadness.
I choose to honor all of it.
They deserve honor.
They did the best they could,
survived hardship, lived, laughed, loved, cared, worked hard
They deserve honor.
All of us have a history.
We may not like it,
it may appear to haunt us.
But we can honor our past. We recognize their place in our history.
Warts and all.
We understand God's Sovereignty
Putting it all in perspective.  
God uses it all.
So, why would we bury it, not share it or even change it to seem more palatable?
It took all of that to get here.
They deserve honor.

Exodus 20:12 tells us to
Honor our father and mother,
that our days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord our God gives us.
A command with a promise.
I have been pondering this verse for some time now.
Especially the second half.
The promise of prolonged days in the land God gives me.
I have not noodled it completely out yet, but it seems to me that peace is part of this.
I know when those that came before us are not honored,
it can cause many negative emotions.
But here it is promising me prolonged days, for honoring.
Our past follows us, whether we like it or not.
We have to do something with it.
Choosing to honor is what God would have us to do.
It seems clear to me that when we don't, we won't receive the promise.
That does not mean it will be easy.
In fact I am convinced that God knew it would be hard, maybe not even natural.
That is why it had to be part of the 10 commandments.
Those that came before us, 
deserve honor.   

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