Proverbs 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it.



I'd like to tell you a wonderful story that my Aunt Gladys told me a few years ago . . .


Shortly after the turn of the century, April 28, 1900, to be exact, in Groton, Vermont, Arthur Freeman Smith - my father - was born to David and Laura Justice Smith.  His family moved around a lot in those early years, finally settling in Schuyler, Nebraska.  Art had three older siblings, Lillie, Chester, and Ray, and two younger, Orlie and Gladys.


David Smith had bought a 1914 Model-T Touring car from a distant relative.  He did not pay much for it, but it was Art's delight!  It was a job just keeping it running.  That was a real problem back then because garages were few and far between.  Art took it upon himself to find out what made this old car go.  He would tear the motor out, look at it, and usually come up with an answer to the problem. 


His family marveled at his ability.


Soon the headlines announced WAR DECLARED ON GERMANY.   Of course, young men over eighteen were drafted at once.  As the war progressed, they notified Chester to sign up.  A couple of months later, Chester, along with many other neighbors and friends, was drafted.  With Art at the wheel, the family left for Wilbur, Nebraska.  Wilbur was about 30 miles from their hometown of Schuyler.  A long line of vehicles made the trek to Wilbur that day for the military.  They traveled along the dusty dirt roads with the top down for fuel economy.  By the time they arrived in Wilbur, everyone was completely covered with dust.


They would soon wash the dust off, but the sadness in their hearts would last for the next several years.  Like Chester, many of these young men were leaving home for the first time.


With Chester gone, David was constantly trying to make a farm hand out of Art without success.  Art would rather sit with a Montgomery Ward's wish book and dream about things for his new car, as he called the Model-T.


After just a few months training, Chester reported for duty in Germany.  He would write home as frequently as possible, which wasn't very often.


Before long, Ray failed at a little vulcanizing business he had established in Friend, Nebraska.  Ray drifted around the country until he joined the military.  Unlike Chester, Ray didn't get shipped overseas; they stationed Ray in Baltimore, Maryland.


The Smith family now had two stars in their window, one for each boy in the service.  That was the custom in those days.  Laura would anxiously grab the paper each time it came out to check the casualty list.  With relief, each time, she would wipe her tears on her apron.


When Art turned 18, he, too, had to sign up for the draft.  Laura feared that before long, she would have three stars in the window.  Before they drafted Art, the war ended.  Chester soon returned home safe, much to the family's joy!


Within the next couple of years, Art and Chester began operating a farm in partnership, Chester running the farm while Art worked as a mechanic in town.  They farmed together for many years until Chester married and Art decided to move to Kewanee, Illinois where he took a job in a garage, using the knowledge he had taught himself.  He was a good mechanic.  Before long, many people in Kewanee would insist that only Art work on their car.


Rereading this story, I am reminded of how difficult it must have been to be a parent in those days.   Then I look around  and I am reminded of how difficult it is to be a parent these days.  No matter how positive an influence we try to be on our children, no matter how often we bring them to church or how open we are in our communications with them, the truth is, they face the wars of modern times every day!  Just today I heard of a police search for a young man who is accused of passing the Aids virus to as many as 70 women and girls throughout a rural NY community.  One victim is as young as 13.  It is said that he traded drugs for sex.  Watch any daytime talk show and you get only a glimpse of the peer pressure that effects our children . . .  Drugs, alcohol, premarital sex, aids, abortion, gang violence . . .


(James 1:2-3 NASB)  Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.


As a parent, sometimes it's difficult to know when to jump in and when to back off.  It is in those difficult times that I have learned to lean on and trust in God.  There are many times, to my children's chagrin that I have jumped in and I continue to do so when I see them headed for danger.   I don't believe that God made me a mother so that when they became teenagers and young adults I would close my eyes and say, "Oh well, there's nothing I can do."


(James 1:5-6 NASB)  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.


My own son left last month for Lemore Naval Base in CA.  Next week he returns home to take his wife and son - my only grandchild - with him.  Perhaps one of the most difficult observations is to know that my job as his parent is basically  complete.   My advise, my wisdom, my faith can now only be shared when invited . . .


I admire the young Christian mother who demands that her family sit down together at supper time, regardless of how difficult it is to come together at one time.  I recently praised her and said, "Don't back down.  Too soon they are gone."


I have guided my children the best I know how.   I don't necessarily agree with all of their decisions, and I am not always proud of all their actions, but nonetheless, they remain my children and I love them no less.   I will always pray for them and I will always be there for them . . .


 (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


Written November 2007