A new year, 2020. A time for new beginnings, reflection and planning for the year ahead. Proverbs 29:18 states: “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Vision is a companion to hope. We hope for better outcomes in our life and in the lives of our family and friends. So we do some planning, make goals and we keep moving forward.
In working on my goals for this year, I went through an exercise regarding “life” goals.* What do I want to accomplish in my lifetime? How do I want to be known? What will that epitaph be on my tombstone some day? Then there was a section for intermediate goals. What can I do over the next 3 to 5 years toward my life goals? These goals are ones that are too big to accomplish in just one year. Then there is the last section which covers steps I can work on this year toward my life goals. Everything crescendos into moving toward those life goals. Who do I want to be? It’s a profound question. A question that leads to self-examination and, as well perhaps, some midcourse correction. I went through something close to this process many years ago when I was challenged to select a life verse. A Scripture verse that would inspire, challenge and encourage me on life’s journey. After prayer and reflection, I settled in on the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy in his last letter to him, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul’s admonition and example to stay in the battle, to run the race of life and stay strong in my faith was where I wanted to finish. Still do.
One goal this year is to read through the Bible. The Bible reading plan I’m using begins in Genesis and Matthew with readings in Psalms and Proverbs. Earlier this month, one particular passage in Proverbs stood out to me with respect to this topic of life goals. Chapter 1, verses 8 and 9 were especially insightful that particular day. “Hear my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they will be a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”ESV The message here is for sons. Their task is to listen to the instructions and teaching provided by their parents, both Dad and Mom. What stood out to me, however, was the presumption that Mom and Dad will actually provide that teaching and instruction. In the days when this was written, the family was central to life. Indeed, parents were the primary teachers for their children. Children and parents were generally together all day long. Today, that landscape has altered considerably with Dad and/or Mom working outside the home. The challenge for parents is more difficult. The imperative, however, has not changed.
The phrase in verse nine declares that these instructions of Mom and Dad will result in garlands and pendants for their children. In other words, those ornaments that they will wear as a part of who they are as a person. Those teachings that will be with them for their lifetime. Memories of the instructions of their parents. The impact is immense. For those of you who still have children at home, what instruction do you plan to provide your sons and daughters this year?
For they will be a garland to grace their heads and a pendant to adorn their necks.
*If you would like a copy of the exercise, please email me at [email protected] to request a copy.
"And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19