My head is finally clear enough that I can read the Bible again profitably. Yesterday I began to read First Thessalonians, that fascinating book with unique information on the Coming of the Lord.

But what I began to ponder has nothing to do with eschatology. Rather, I was intrigued to see that within five verses, Paul compares his relationship with the Thessalonians to that of both a mother and a father:

Verse 7: “But we were gentle among you like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.”

Verse 11: “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God….”

Isn’t that beautiful? Males and females are equally made in the image of God and both reflect his beauty. Of course. But, again, that comparison is not what caught my eye.

It was  (I) “charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God”.

I begin to think back in my own life, considering the number of times I can remember being ‘charged’ to take on serious obligations. I can think of only two. There must have been a third – presumably when I graduated from high school – but I have zero memory of that. And a fourth – when I was baptized at the age of twenty. But there was no teaching involved with that. None whatsoever. And though I was sincere, it wasn’t because I had been taught the seriousness of the commitment I was making.

The first formal charge I recall was in the form of an oath and was on my wedding day. I promised to love, honor and submit to my husband until death us do part. Fortunately, he promised something similar! And that oath, that oath alone at times, has given us the range of possible responses to difficulties in our marriage.  I am so very thankful for that.

But the very first charge I remember was an informal one. And maybe it wasn’t quite a charge but I took it as such.

I was named after my Auntie Barbara. Her husband, Uncle Joe, was my favorite uncle – the only uncle we knew really well. We all have wonderful memories of him. He was a joker, a teaser. He really enjoyed us and let us know that. But one day he made a point of being alone with me. And he became intensely serious.

“Barbara”, he said, “I will be happy if you grow up to be half the woman your aunt is.”

I could see he meant this as a charge, and, with embarrassment , I accepted it as such. It was not too long after that that he died. That charge was now doubly compelling.

I didn’t quite know what to do with this standard of noble womanhood. Certainly, it didn’t help me to make myself ‘good’. But it was always there working in me as an ideal I should be attaining.

Truly, I think God used it greatly as a pre-evangelism tool.

It has made me think of the great power fathers, and father figures, have in the lives of their children. The charge of a loving father is not easily put aside. Anything that reflects God’s order has a life of its own, doesn’t it?

It made me wish so very much my own father had taught me biblical truth and charged me to keep it. If a general, secular charge from an uncle worked so powerfully in my life, what might that have done?

Families are such mysterious, powerful, and beautiful entities. No wonder so many authoritarians are determined to undercut them. They fear their latent power.