Summary: Keys to parenting: 1. Prayer 2. Modeling 3. Training
Morgan Freeman narrates the documentary film The March of the Penguins. It follows the epic journey of the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica 70 miles inland to their breeding grounds. It is an arduous walk as they tilt side to side through the ice, snow and natural barriers. The film captures the life and death struggle of these three-foot-high birds in an extremely hostile environment. After the penguins have made the trek to their mating grounds, the females produce a single egg, and then the male and female penguin perform an intricate dance in order to exchange the egg from the female to the male before it freezes in the cruel Antarctic winds. The mother swaps her egg from her feet to the father’s feet, and a flap of skin covers the fragile egg. The mothers then march like waddling soldiers back to the feeding grounds. The fathers, however, remain and shuffle toward each other and huddle together to protect themselves and the eggs on top of their feet from the storm. They do this for more than two months without relief. The temperature is colder than anything you have ever experienced, and they have not eaten for a long time, and will not eat till they trek back 70 miles to their feeding grounds.
Freeman narrates: “As the fathers settle into their long wait at the breeding grounds, the winter’s second storm arrives. The temperature is now 80 degrees below zero. That’s without taking into account the wind which can blow 100 miles per hour. Though they can be aggressive during the rest of the year, at this time the males are totally docile, a united and cooperative team. They brace against the storm by merging their thousand bodies into a single mass. They will take turns, each of them getting to spend some time near the center of their huddle where it’s warmer.” (Scene begins at 00:28:20 and ends at 00:29:50)
Just imagine getting into bed with someone who has been standing on the Antarctic ice when it is 80 degrees below zero and the wind has been blowing at 100 miles per hour! Imagine how difficult it is to be a Penguin parent. But sometimes human parenting here in the U. S. can seem as cold and difficult as balancing a delicate egg on your feet for months in the Antarctic. The challenges of parenthood are very complex, demanding and sometimes painful. It call for a lot of self-sacrifice. It is also our greatest source of joy which makes all the other stuff tolerable.
As Christians, what are some of the keys to what we see as important. I want to propose three key elements to parenting this morning. There are many others that we could bring up as well, but these stick out in my mind as primary. The three keys are prayer, modeling and training.
The first is: Prayer. I pray constantly for my family. Here are the things I prayed for my children and now pray for my grandchildren. I pray that part of the Lord’s prayer that says “deliver them from evil,” or more accurately “deliver them from the evil one.” My primary concern here is that they be delivered from the evil one who wants to separate them from God and destroy their relationship with him. I pray that they will be delivered from those who perpetrate evil on others. I pray that they will be daily transformed into the likeness of Christ. I pray that they will do what is right before they do what they think will make them happy. I pray that they will seek God with their whole heart. I pray not so much that they will be spared from the challenges of life as I do that they will have the strength and godly wisdom to triumph over those challenges. I pray that God would guide them to the person they will eventually marry; that already God would be ordering the circumstances to one day bring them together. I pray that they will be good, and thereby be a blessing to the world; that they would be part of the solution, rather than being part of the problem. I pray that God would use them powerfully in this world to bring about his kingdom on earth. I pray for protection over them so that they may continue to live and thrive in order to carry out God’s purposes for their lives. I want them to be happy, but not at the expense of their character. I want them to enjoy life, but not at the cost of missing their purpose in life. I want them to understand and live out the words of Jesus when he said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).