My father died twenty years ago last Friday, April Fool’s Day, 1996. (I often wonder if he planned that day.) A week before his death, knowing his death was imminent, my father made a suggestion. Deathbed advice has power other suggestions can’t match.
My dad told me that many of the people he counseled lived their adult lives being controlled by their parents. Most parental-control situations are easily recognized: parents who bully and browbeat or those who provide unceasing, unsolicited advice.
He told me there is another insidious control which most people fail to recognize. It’s the unconscious control our parents exert when we try our hardest not to be like them.
My father summarized his advice like this:
If you spend your life trying not to be like somebody you will spend your life not being somebody.
What We Look at Controls Us
We always make a beeline for the meditations of our hearts.
- When Eve looked at the forbidden fruit “and saw that it was a delight to the eyes, and … to be desired to make one wise,” she ate it.
- When the Israelites looked at the nations around them, they rejected God as their king.
- When Peter looked at the wind and the waves, he sank.
The object of our eyes becomes a path for our feet. The thoughts of our minds and the meditations of our hearts have a power we seldom recognize.
And Then There Is My Mom
For the last twenty years, my eighty-nine-year-old mom has looked on a tombstone with her name and birth-year chiseled in stone; knowing that her death too approaches.
But that same stone reminds her of a hope that cannot be taken: eternal, abundant, rich, joyous life through the victorious resurrection of Jesus. She’s gazing on the path blazed by God himself, the path Home.
The very best things of all deserve a good, hard look.