Where have you been all this time?" Too often a missionary is faced with this poignant question from a people kept waiting too long for the story of God's love. Pregnant with meaning, this question must also bring to all of us a sharp sense of the unresolved problems of brotherhood and humanity awaiting the church. Too often the tragic answer to the pleas of nationals for the torch of truth to lighten their darkness meets with the disheartening answer, "Sorry, but we have no one to send." How long must the pleadings go unanswered? Individually, do we need a keener sensitivity to our obligations to Christ? As the world precariously teeters on the verge of oblivion does the church lack the push, the positive power of its beginnings? The answer to desperate need is desperate caring and the cost of the full power and exuberance of the Christian life is devotion of heart.
A student missionary to Brazil writes of an experience that added meaning to his life. In a letter to the home church he pointed out a few realities. South America, he says, could be set on fire. There are hundreds of baptisms, but conversions cannot happen on a larger scale because of a lack of funds and men. "I wish the church members could all be here to see the work that so desperately needs to be done." The missionary's work is just a scratch on the surface of an overwhelming task.
We witness evidences of a malaise in dealing with the moral and spiritual problems of the past 6,000 years. The giants of apathy and carelessness can be dealt with. Mother, you have it in your power to kindle a love flame in eager young hearts. Your impact on the minds of your children is greater than any other medium in molding character, attitudes, and behavior. Possibilities are wrapped up in their lives, and the total unleashing of power in these lives spells out the answer to the church's need.
How then are you to channel this priceless energy? Before you can kindle a flame you must yourself experience a sharp sense of the pain that rends the world. You must cultivate perception and intelligence of heart. The Holy Spirit must cauterize your heart with a holy flame. Paul writes, "Who maketh . . . his ministers a flame of fire." Jeremiah tells of a burning fire in his heart. Fire gives light and heat, and the world is cold and needs warmth.
You may pave the way for the choices in life of your children by raising their vision beyond the small horizon of their own desires for comfortable living. If there is cultivated in the home a disproportionate amount of interest in living standards you may expect a less than enthusiastic response.
A child learns by response to certain stimuli. Like the widening circles from a pebble dropped in the water so an idea implanted develops and influences the life. Ellen G. White says that the first three years are the most important years in a child's life and a modern sociologist tells us that one half of all a child will ever learn is learned in the first three years of life. During these years a parent stands in the place of God. Inscribe what you will on receptive minds but for these inscriptions you must give an account.
In childhood there is a thirst for the future and at times there is a chasm between the parent and child. There is a time when, half child, half adult, they need understanding. Here the shadow of mother falls across their path.
It is good to remember that only one ninth of an iceberg's bulk is above the icy water and eight ninths below. Here is hidden power. Parents should give a vision of the land to be possessed. By precept teach that a dedication to God and His truth is the most important thing in life and by example prove that happiness is a by-product of disciplined usefulness in service for others. Contrary winds will blow and you can't do the job without God. "Your petitions must not be faint, occasional, and fitful, but earnest, persevering, and constant."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 510.
In a recent poll taken in one of our colleges the students were questioned, "Do you have a consistent program of family worship at home?" Approximately 70 per cent answered No. Is this part of the answer to the fact that the number of young men in our colleges taking theology has steadily decreased year by year? Are parents making the fatal mistake of shifting their responsibility to the school? The heartbreak of Eli, the indulgent father, and the bitter cry of David, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom!" etch upon our consciousness for all time the fearful results of lost opportunity.
The evils of parental permissiveness were recently advertised to a shocked society by the death of a young girl. Returning home from a party at which drinks were served to the teenagers by the consent of their parents, her car got out of control, and crashed. One more death was chalked up to drunken driving. How exceedingly sharp must have been the arrow that pierced the hearts of the sophisticated parents.
Mothers, a challenge is held out to you. Feel the urgency of saving lost souls pulsating within you. With indomitable courage mold your child until he is ready to spend and be spent for the glory of God. Teach him to put a pebble in his sling and hit the Goliaths of indifference and coldness squarely in the forehead. By this we may give impetus to the work and finish the task assigned to the church. "A man who has a good son has not wasted his life."