The sunshine was streaming in the window one bright June day, as ten year old Sharon skipped down the hall. The birds were singing, the flowers were in full bloom, and a soft breeze played with the window curtains … all conspiring together to make her feel like dancing and singing with all her might.
“Mama!” she called as she hurried down the hallway, “Mama, where are you?”
“In the laundry room, dear. What do you need?”
“Oh! Here you are! Isn’t it such a glorious day? It is as if everything and everyone is perfect today.”
“It is very beautiful, Sharon.” Mrs. Griffin returned. “It’s just the right type of day to hang laundry. I’m sure it will dry very quickly, which will be very helpful, seeing that we have so much.”
“Oh Mama!” The smile on Sharon’s face immediately vanished. “I do not want to do laundry today. Rosie just called, and asked if she and Renee could come over to ride ponies, and play with us.”
“Well, that sounds very nice and fine, except that we have a pile of laundry to take care of, and there are blackberries on the counter that need to be turned into jam. If you and Abigail can pitch in and help out with all the chores that need to be done, then maybe Rosie and Renee can come over later.”
Sharon’s shoulders slumped, and she turned toward the door. Mrs. Griffin’s keen eye quickly detected the change in her daughter’s attitude, but she continued putting clothes into the washing machine and said nothing. Sharon was the oldest of five children, and was a big help to her parents. She was very mature and talented for her age, but had a few character flaws – like every other human on this earth. While she loved to work and help her parents, she preferred to do what she wanted to do first. If she did not have any of her own desires to accomplish, then she was more than glad to aid her family. But when their plans clashed with hers, there was a battle of the will. This day was no exception. Before she had found her mother in the laundry room, she had been conjuring up images of riding the ponies with Rosie and Renee, and maybe even having a tea party. What a delightful time they would have!
“Abigail!” she called in a irritated tone “Come here right away!”
“What do you want?” asked the eight year old girl. Her blue eyes sparkled mischievously, and her lips were turned up in a smile.
“We have work to do, and had better get going with it unless you want to be up until midnight.” Sharon grumbled.
“Midnight!” Abigail laughed merrily “You’re silly! Mama wouldn’t let us work until midnight! What needs to be done?”
“Laundry, and blackberries, and everything else that normally has to be done. Get up! Don’t just sit there when there’s a pile of chores!”
“Go on! Go on!” Abigail laughed again “You should go out in the sunshine, and let the bird songs and the flowers chase away your blues.”
Sharon turned back to the laundry room, still frowning. She picked up a basket of wet, clean laundry, and headed for the clothesline in the back yard. Ignoring the beauty around her, and forgetting her mother’s admonition about hurrying to
finish the chores so that her friends could come over, she slowly went about her work with a pout on her face. Once she had finished hanging the first load of laundry, she retraced her steps into the house.
“Sharon,” Mrs. Griffin called as her daughter reentered the house, “please come here.”
The disgruntled girl set the laundry basket beside the washing machine, and walked into the kitchen where her mother was washing dishes.
“Sharon,” her mother began “I think that you may not have heard me correctly. I told you that if you and Abigail hurried to accomplish the necessary chores, then it would be possible for Rosie and Renee to come over. I thought that you wanted them to come, but it did not appear to me that you were hurrying with the laundry. Instead it seemed that you were going about it very slowly. I suggest that you exchange that bad attitude for a good one, and you’ll make yourself and everyone else happy.”
“Yes ma’am.” Sharon replied, and went to fetch another load of laundry.
Once she was outside hanging the clothes again, she began to think about her attitude. She came to the conclusion that her mother was right, and that as much as she wanted to do things her way; it would be better for her and everyone else if she submitted to her mother.
I wonder why it has to be that way. She thought to herself. Why are children supposed to obey their parents? Maybe I can ask Mama about that. Her fingers fairly flew as she raced to empty the laundry basket.
“Mama?” she called as soon as she entered the house.
“I’m in here.” Mrs. Griffin’s voice came from the kitchen. “What do you need?”
“Will you forgive me for not having a good attitude toward you?”
“Of course I do.” her mother replied.
“I have a question.” Sharon said hesitantly; “Why are children supposed to obey their parents? I know the Bible says to, but why does it say that?”
Mrs. Griffin smiled; “The answer to your question is found directly after the command for children to obey their parents. Get a Bible, and I will show you.”
Sharon ran to her bedroom, and was back in a minute with her Bible.
“That was fast.” her mother praised. “Now open up to Ephesians chapter six. Read verse one and two.”
Sharon found the place, cleared her throat, and began to read; “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)”
“Do you understand what that means?” Mrs Griffin asked. Without waiting for an answer, she continued; “The apostle Paul wrote that honoring your father and mother was the first commandment that had been given, with a promise.”
“What is the promise?” Sharon questioned.
“Turn to Exodus chapter twenty, and read verse twelve.” her mother replied.
“Honour thy father and thy mother:” Sharon read. “that thy days may be long upon the land which YHWH thy God giveth thee.”
“Now read Deuteronomy chapter five, verse sixteen.” Mrs. Griffin instructed.
Sharon found the place, and read; “Honour thy father and thy mother, as YHWH thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which YHWH thy God giveth thee.”
“That was the first commandment that the Heavenly Father gave, in which He included a promise. The promise was that our lives would be long and blessed, and things would go well with us, if we honor our parents.”
“But Mama,” Sharon began hesitantly. “What is it, dear?” “You’re not perfect … I mean you and Papa make
mistakes just like everyone else, so why are we supposed to obey you.”
A smile played on Mrs. Griffin’s lips as she answered;
“I didn’t see any qualifications for parents in those Scriptures.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that the command is to obey and honor your parents, and it doesn’t say anything about whether they are perfect or not. In fact, no one is perfect, so it is obvious that you are commanded to obey non-perfect parents.”
“But that’s my question!” Sharon exclaimed. “Why are we supposed to obey you?”
“Because the Creator of heaven and earth and mankind made the laws for us to live by. One of His laws is that children obey their parents. That’s the long and short of it. However, there are other reasons that should make sense to you. Read Proverbs chapter thirteen, verse one.”
“A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke.” Sharon read.
“And read Proverbs chapter six, verse twenty.”
“My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:”
“You understand that these verses apply to all children, and not just boys, don’t you?” Mrs. Griffin asked.
Sharon nodded her head thoughtfully.
“You see,” her mother continued. “people grow wiser as they grow older … normally. When you are child, there are many things that you don’t understand or comprehend. Think about your brother Timothy. He’s only three years old. If it were up to him, he would go and ride his tricycle in the street. He doesn’t think about the fact that it’s a very dangerous thing to do. If we didn’t train baby Elizabeth, she would place her hand on the wood stove, without even thinking about it being hot. She doesn’t understand the consequences of her actions.”
“But, I’m ten.” Sharon replied. “I’m not three, or one.”
“I know that.” Mrs. Griffin gave her a smile. “You’re growing up and maturing more and more every day … but you’re still not old enough or mature enough to face the world on your own. You need parents who will give you wise counsel and guide you lovingly. You father and I are not perfect, but we recognize our responsibility to our children, and pray every day for wisdom on how to train you in righteousness.”
“So, will there ever be a time when I don’t have to obey you and Papa anymore?” Sharon asked.
“When you are married and have a family of your own. However, you are to honor your parents, no matter what age you are. When you are older and have a family, it may be that your father or I will offer a suggestion to you. If you were
a child, we would expect you to obey it. Once you are married though, it is not our responsibility to tell you what to do, but it is your responsibility to thoughtfully consider any advice that we may offer. That would be a way to honor us.”
“I see. But Mama, what if I never get married, and live with you for the rest of my life. Will I have to obey you even when I am sixty years old?”
Mrs. Griffin laughed merrily;
“I think that’s a topic to discuss some other time. We have quite a while before we will have to worry about that option, and besides; there are more chores to be done!”
“Yes ma’am. I’ll go do them. Will you forgive me for having a bad attitude earlier.”
“Of course, dear. I’m glad to see it’s changed. Now run along and enjoy this glorious day!”
Several hours later, Sharon and Abigail were harnessing up the ponies to go for a ride with the neighbor girls – Rosie and Renee.
“I’m really glad that we could come over and ride today.” Renee exclaimed. “It’s so beautiful, isn’t it?”
The other girls assented their agreement, and soon they all were enjoying a horseback ride in the fresh spring air. After they had tired of the exercise, they returned to the house, and set up a tea party under the large oak tree in the front yard.
“Rachel came over today to visit.” Rosie informed Sharon and Abigail. Rachel was Rosie and Renee’s older sister who had recently married. “I overheard her asking Mother’s advice about something,” Rosie continued “and it made me curious. I asked her if she liked being able to make her own decisions, and not have to obey everything that Father and Mother told her to do.”
“What did she say?” Sharon questioned eagerly, thinking of the conversation that she had held with her mother that morning.
“She said that she is glad she has a husband that helps her make decisions, and that she would hate to have to make decisions by herself, because there’s so much responsibility involved. I always thought about how nice it would be once I grew up, and could do whatever I wanted to do, but Rachel says that it was much easier when she was at home, and just did whatever Father and Mother wanted her to.”
“Then, does she not like being married?” Abigail asked.
“Oh! She loves being married! She told me that she is very happy to be married.” Rosie quickly replied. “She said that there is a time and place for everything, and to enjoy being obedient now, so that I would enjoy being married even more. She also said that when we practice being obedient to our parents, it will help us prepare to be obedient to our husbands.”
“That’s very interesting.” Sharon mused, as she nibbled a large oatmeal cookie. “I’ll have to remember that … thank you for telling me.”
That night, as Sharon was bidding her mother good-night, she said;
“Mama, I want to thank you for explaining to me why I should be obedient to you and Papa. From now on, I will do my best to remember that. I want to be a good wife someday!