Many years ago I visited a small Austrian village nestled into the side of a mountain, surrounded by a lake. At the side of the mountain was a very old, castle-like rock home standing boldly against the sheer incline of the ancient mountain.
The night we visited this town, there was a violent storm that encompassed the whole village—water came up to the first floors, and electricity went out all over the village. Rumbling and crashing resounded all around us.
As we looked out fearfully toward the lake below, the lightning flashed again. In the momentary light, we observed that the rain and the lake seemed almost to join in the frenzied wind and storm blowing and swirling in all directions. Yet there was a dark form—the only thing in our eyesight that was not moving—standing placidly still in one of the fiercest storms I had ever witnessed. It was the small castle that had been built on the rock almost 800 years before.
The next morning we saw debris from the storm—floating pieces of wood, deck chairs, leaves cluttering the water. As we breakfasted in a small cafe, we asked about the small castle we had observed the night before. “It is the only house that has stayed through hundreds of years of such storms. It is a familiar icon to all of the families who have lived here for generations—a promise that life will go on in our small town, even amidst the mountain storms,” we were told.
What a picture this became to me, over the years, of what I wanted our family to portray: strength, soundness, stability—a fortress of all that is beautiful, good, and true in the midst of a culture filled with the storms of postmodernism, godlessness, idolatry, immorality, shallowness of commitment, vanity, and financially difficult seasons. We have pictured and prayed that our home would be an immovable fortress of truth and a haven of righteousness for all who come here.
However, many moms who are committed to doing the best with their children flounder in building a foundation. The distraction of school demands gets in the way of spiritual and life goals. I have seen my three older children, who have already ventured into life, met with many storms that challenged their faith, morality, beliefs, and values with onslaught after onslaught. By God’s grace and through prayer, so far they have been able to retain their faith and grow in their love for God and His ways; they are all standing in the midst of the cultural storms, forging their own messages and stands in their young adulthood. I think it is because of the foundations that they, like the little castle on the mountain, have as a secure base from which to withstand the storms.
The following are several foundations that I think must be established:
1. The Word of God in Psalm 119: 99-101 tells us of a secret that is available to any person who is diligent: “Thy commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Thy testimonies are my meditations. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Thy precepts.”
We must love the Word of God ourselves and immerse ourselves in it. Children need a foundation of the Word. They need to memorize chapters and chapters of the Bible so that their hearts can have a resource from which to draw truth.
2. Foundations of Morality and Righteous Living must be established in order for our children to know how to find their way through the maze of lies promoted in our culture. Postmodernism is a contemporary way of thinking that deconstructs the traditional values and ways of living life. Goodness, beauty, and truth have not changed since the beginning of time. We must hold onto them—in our homes, in the media we allow ourselves to watch, and in the books we read—in order to form in our children these excellent appetites for life.
Children need first to know what moral law and goodness are before they can choose to live by them when they are young adults. The Ten Commandments, our base values—like we discuss in our 24 Family Ways: Family Devotional—provide guidance for a moral foundation. A child needs to have a secure sense of “what we in our family hold as sacred and will build our lives upon.”
3. Children need a solid foundation of Love and Healthy Relationships. In Matthew 6-8 Jesus profoundly devotes most of His words to our relationships with people and our relationship with Him above all else. He talks about being forgiving, not judging, not being angry or adulterous in our hearts, about being a peacemaker, being gentle and trusting, praying, and seeking. He said, “They will know you are My disciples by your love for one another.” I really have seen that, though my children have passed through many cultural storms, it is because of the great love and friendship we have cultivated with them–a foundation of deep love and intimacy—that they have come to have a deep regard for our opinions, our ideas, and our wisdom about life. In the same way that Jesus gave up His life for the disciples, we have sought to give up our own lives in service to our children. They are all old enough to see our flaws and to know our weaknesses, but they see my husband Clay and me as championing their lives, the ones who believe in them, and the ones who serve them and support them. Family is that culture through which God designed such strong ties to be forged, that these relationships would provide strength, comfort, and direction for all of life.