I recently had another opportunity to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. In watching the guards this second time, beat the same paths as before, I wondered what path I was beating as a father?
I had two thoughts relating to the Guard.
One guard had a bee buzzing and harassing him during much of his post. His jaw never moved. He never raised a brow. His neck never twitched, his shoulder never flinched. He stayed crisp in his smooth stride.
More impressive, a few years ago the Guard stayed watch during a small earthquake. Then, once when the parks director called to tell them they could stand down during a recent hurricane, the officer who took the call said, “We respectfully decline.” The guards even held post when just a couple miles away a plane flew into the Pentagon on Sept. 11th, 2001.
My second conclusion related to the Guard was, consistency makes it easy for others to follow, no matter how often they are watching.
Often no one is there to watch the sentinels. It would be easy for them to dial it in; to slack off. However, they realize the sacrifice paid by those whom they guard. Their seriousness and sense of duty compels the on-looker to respect and honor what they honor. Their passion makes you want to understand what they are doing and why it’s important.
Watching them, I wondered, as a dad am I consistent in my example no matter the circumstances? Am I making it easy to follow Jesus, whether or not I know my kids are paying attention?
I speculated whether or not my kids view me guarding my heart and faith in Jesus- who gave his life for mine. I wondered if they are gaining an understanding of His ultimate sacrifice because of the seriousness with which they see me take Him?
Sometimes I’m distracted during quiet time because I hear my one of my kids looking for me. As I start to grumble at the pending interruption, I’ll hear my wife say, “He’s reading and praying, I’ll send him to you when he’s finished.” I’ll take that.
We have little messages and prayer lists written in a few places around the house. For years, above the kids’ beds, we had a bunch of virtues and with definitions posted so they went to bed each night seeing them. We have scriptures on the walls and cabinets at various times, yet I continuously wonder if they are paying attention. Then, at times unexpectedly, I see fruit by the things they write and recall. I’ll certainly take that.
Sometimes I question the authenticity of it all. I worry that what is presented to those outside the walls seems impressive, yet deemed counterfeit by the ones who live with me inside them. I completely identify with Paul when he said in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Yet, I can only march on, no matter the frustrations and concerns over my consistency and authenticity.
At times boldly, and at others feebly, I pray through Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “Lord, let your commands be on our hearts. Let us impress them on our children. Let us talk about them when we sit at home and when we are on the road, at bed time and in the morning. Let what is written on our walls be ever in front of us.”
I hope by my path (and God’s grace) they are compelled to understand the Lord’s sacrifice and are motivated to keep His commands.
I pray the same for yours.