“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” Psalm 78:5-7.
“Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hanging my first painting on the wall, and that gave me the desire to paint another one.” “Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feeding my puppy, and I told myself it was good to be compassionate to animals.” “Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you helping Mom make my favorite cake, and Ithought that those moments in the family are special.” “Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you pray, and then I knew there is a God with whom I can speak when I need it.” “Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, you kissed me when I was in bed, and I felt loved.” “Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw a tear roll down your cheek, and I understood that certain things hurt us and it is okay to cry.” “Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you that you were happy with yourself, and I wanted to look like you.” “Daddy, when you thought I wasn’t looking, I wanted to thank God for all the things that I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking at you.” –Author unknown.
When we consider the values that each half of a couple brings to their relationship, we cannot ignore their projection into the future. The understanding of today and the way we live in the present is shaped by our imagination of what will transpire in the future. The founders of the home, the spouses, have their own collections of qualities that, when shared, multiply and go beyond themselves–faith, relationships with others, problem-solving skills, system of life, ideals, and dreams. Each of these elements forms the expectations that their home has shaped, consciously or unconsciously, for the future. This includes love for the truth.
“Consider the family institution a training school, preparatory for the performance of religious duties. Your children are to act a part in church capacity, and every power of the mind, every physical capacity is to be kept strong and active for the service of Christ. They are to be taught to love truth because it is truth;...”1
The principles that the founders of the household consider their own and that they transmit to those who are added to the family–the children–must be clear, simple, and consistent. The example, practice, and teaching of goodness constitute principles that are effective in daily life only when accompanied by love, which comes from the giver (God), passes through the transmitters (parents), and reaches the reproducers (children). Thus, these principles become actual in the immediate generation.
“Our time here is short. We can pass through this world but once; as we pass along, let us make the most of life. The work to which we are called does not require wealth or social position or great ability. It requires a kindly, self- sacrificing spirit and a steadfast purpose. A lamp, however small, if kept steadily burning, may be the means of lighting many other lamps. Our sphere of influence may seem narrow, our ability small, our opportunities few, our acquirements limited; yet wonderful possibilities are oursthrough a faithful use of the opportunities of our own homes. If we will open our hearts and homes to the divine principles of life, we shall become channels for currents of life-giving power. From our homes will flow streams of healing, bringing life and beauty and fruitfulness where now are barrenness and dearth.”2
Goodness, self-denial, and firmness of purpose are essential principles for the family to be a blessing that exceeds even its own members’ expectations, just as rivers generate life and beauty and abundance of goods flow out to society. In the small circle of the home, the seeds of truth are planted in the heart of each member simultaneously and reciprocally, both by precept and example. Thus, the entire family is educated and receives the very best of life, which is not limited to today but also includes and determines tomorrow.
The acceptance of the truth, its practice, and the development of its principles in each family member are included in the constant process of divine work combined with human effort and the unwavering decision to conform to that which is good.
“The precious graces of the Holy Spirit are not developed in a moment. Courage, fortitude, meekness, faith, unwavering trust in God’s power to save, are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God are to seal their destiny.”3 Family life is shaped by every action, word, thought, principle, and expectation of its members as they respond to the process of spiritual development as Heaven works in their hearts. The fruit of the Spirit is thus produced–love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Galatians 5:22, 23.
“There are evils which man may lessen but can never remove. He is to overcome obstacles and make his surroundings instead of being molded by them. He has room to exercise his talents in bringing order and harmony out of confusion. In this work he may have divine aid if
he will claim it. He is not left to battle with temptations and trials in his own strength. Help has been laid upon One who is mighty. Jesus left the royal courts of heaven and suffered and died in a world degraded by sin, that He might teach man how to pass through the trials of life and overcome its temptations. Here is a pattern for us.”4
The environment, the circumstances, the time in which one lives, and the people who are closest cannot be chosen or changed, but they can be transformed in a practical, visible way. Obstacles, tests, temptations, and difficulties cannot be easily eliminated. However, through the grace of Christ, one can understand, accept, and assess them so that such adversities are overcome and learned from.
The way one thinks, his spiritual foundation, his motives, and his attitude determine the results.
In the home circle, unity in diversity will unite its members. Nature reflects the divine reasoning of its Author, for one sees a beautiful diversity of colors, shapes, purpose, location, and size in the plant kingdom, even as everything is an integral part of a whole–an ecosystem.
“In all the Lord’s arrangements, there is nothing more beautiful than His plan of giving to men and women a diversity of gifts. The church is His garden, adorned with a variety of trees, plants, and flowers. He does not expect the hyssop to assume the proportions of the cedar, nor the olive to reach the height of the stately palm.”5
Individuality in the family unit encompasses tolerance, respect, and encouragement for each member. The qualities and gifts of each one enrich and widen the action and efficiency of the home as a unit. Furthermore, the needs of each one are met through the special treatment, attention, and development that promote both personal growth and mutual happiness.
“The home that is beautified by love, sympathy, and tenderness is a place that angels love to visit, and where God is glorified. The influence of a carefully guarded Christian home in the years of childhood and youth is the surest safeguard against the corruptions of the world. In the atmosphere of such a home the children will learn to love both their earthly parents and their heavenly Father.”6
The development of habits based on heavenly principles allows the family to function efficiently, both internally and externally, to shape each person’s character every day. Divine influence and parental care harmonize in the formation of good, positive characters. Character is the result of behavior, Aristotle declared, and is made up of the principles that compose it.
“The family relationship should be sanctifying in its influence. Christian homes, established and conducted in accordance with God’s plan, are a wonderful help in forming Christian character.... Parents and children should unite in offering loving service to Him who alone can keep human love pure and noble.”7
Overcoming and succeeding
“We need minds that can see difficulties and go through with them with the wisdom that comes from God, that can wrestle with hard problems and conquer them. The hardest problem is to crucify self, to endure hardness in spiritual experiences, training the soul by severe discipline. This will not, perhaps, bring the very best satisfaction at the first, but the aftereffect will be peace and happiness.”8
“Despite his talent and fame, [George Frederic] Handel faced considerable adversity. The competition with rival English composers was tough. The public was fickle and sometimes did not attend their presentations. In addition to that, he was a frequent victim of the changing political winds of those times. Several times he found himself without a penny in his pocket and on the verge of bankruptcy. It was difficult for him to master the pain caused by rejection and failures, especially after such a successful past.
“Then his problems were complicated by the breakdown of his health. He suffered a spill that left him with his right arm without movement, which meant the loss of the use of four fingers of his right hand. Although he recovered, he was dejected. In 1741, he decided it was time to retire, even though he was only fifty-six years old. He felt discouraged and miserable and was deeply in debt. He believed his creditors would send him to prison. On April 8 of that same year, he offered what was interpreted as his farewell concert. Sad and full of self-pity, he gave up.
“But in August of that year, something incredible happened. A wealthy friend named Charles Jennings visited Handel and handed him a script based on the life of Christ. The work intrigued Handel enough to put it into action. He started writing. And immediately the floodgates of inspiration opened. His cycle of inactivity had been broken. For twenty-one days, he wrote almost without stopping. Then he spent another two
days working on the orchestration. In twenty-four days, he completed the manuscript of two hundred and sixty pages. He called that work The Messiah. Today, Handel’s Messiah is considered a masterpiece and the culmination of the composer’s work. In fact, Sir Newman Flower, one of Handel’s biographers, said of the preparation of The Messiah: ‘Considering the immensity of the work and the short time he took, it will remain, perhaps forever, as the greatest feat in the whole history of musical composition.’ Let Christ be our motivation for life, the principle that governs it, and the expectation of victory.”9
By Raquel Orce Sotomayor
1 Child Guidance, p. 482.
2 The Ministry of Healing, p. 356.
3 Ibid., p. 454.
4 Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 312.
5 Evangelism, pp. 98, 99.
6 The Adventist Home, p. 19.
8 (Letter 43, 1899) Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 13. 9 John Maxwell, Failing Forward, re-translated.
Source: Sabbath Watchman