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From the time I was in grammar school, spiritual reading was hammered home to me. We were well advised to monitor our choices of literature, to prioritize them according to our somewhat limited time and energy. We were warned of the dangers that lurked beneath the selections we made, and the virtues to be gained when we opted only for the best reading. Best was translated as “sanctified reading.” Bible stories stood at the top of the list. Then came holy books about saints and martyrs whose lives we could emulate. Unfortunately, their lives seemed so far above and beyond my own flawed existence that they became impossible goals to reach and often frightening to consider.
I can remember when I first learned about the breadth and depth of spiritual reading. I was old enough to have already discovered the truth I was about to hear, truth that had somehow eluded me. The words I heard were these: “It is good to read spiritual books, but always remember that all life is to be read spiritually. We can read the newspapers or novels spiritually. We can hear God speaking to us and ‘read a spiritual message’ through ordinary conversations with friends, television programs, and movies.” There is no end to it. At the same time, we do need to make a beginning. We need to believe in the magnitude of God’s communication with us and pay closer attention. We need to stretch higher and go deeper into God’s word.
It may appear to be a daunting task, but that is not the case. All that is required is an open mind and heart, a desire to hear and heed divinity, and a willingness to find God everywhere, in everything and everyone.
I have previously mentioned that I love to watch “Little People, Big World.” I enjoy entering the life of the Roloff family and learn from their viewpoint, their perspective on life. The way in which they handle the many obstacles to be faced when one is born with dwarfism always inspires me. Life, for them, is not to be denied. It is to be lived to its fullest extent, however differently their individual needs might cause that life to be.
The series is ending, so I am watching ever more intently. This time my observations brought me to a new understanding of their presence. Their eldest sons, twins who are not identical since one is a “big” person and the other a “little” one, have just turned 20. They have yet to leave the home nest, not a bad thing but an indication to their parents that the young men may be a tad too comfortable, a tad too unwilling to face challenges and strike out on their own.
As a result, their dad decided to assist his sons by offering them an opportunity to test the waters of responsibility. He put them in charge of a major project on the family farm, telling them that he would always be available if they ran into difficulty. He also made sure that they heard his deeper message, his trust and belief in their ability, capability, and desire to rise to the occasion.
Watching and listening, I began to read the message spiritually. Matt Roloff was no longer simply a champion at meeting and deconstructing obstacles. He became a visible image and likeness of God. I heard and saw our Divine Parent saying to me, to us, I trust you. I believe in you. I know you are able and capable and willing to do my work on the family farm–the world. I am leaving you in charge but I’ll be available always. All you need to do is contact me, communicate with me, and know that I’ll not leave you to fail but will be with you in your efforts.
With great trepidation, Jeremy and Zach accepted the parental challenge. They summoned the necessary courage to tackle it and worked to bolster each other in the process. It was not long before the first call to dad was made. They asked what they should do to solve a particular problem. Dad decided it was within their power and aptitude to resolve it. He was right. They did...and felt ever more empowered.
Problems continued to present themselves during the day. More phone calls were made. More resolutions were left to the twins to discern and decide. They learned where the pitfalls lay and how to prevent them. They discovered information gaps and how to assure they’d not be problematic in the future. Then came a major dilemma. This one, though they tried to address it on their own, could not be easily dismissed.
They did not want to phone their dad, but the challenge and its resolution was beyond their ken. Providentially, he appeared on the scene and asked, “How are things going? Are you having any problems?” At first, the boys were reluctant to admit their limitations. Their father’s presence pierced their misgivings with the unique encouragement of parental love and they pointed out the broken fence that was a major obstacle to tractor traffic.
Matt Roloff retained a serious demeanor. He’d not diminish the severity of the situation. He’d not allow his sons to lose the progress they had made in learning life’s lessons. At the same time, he’d not be so hard on them that they would lose heart, lose faith in their own abilities to face difficulties and surmount them. Instead, he offered the advice they needed to fix the problem and continue their efforts.
Matt drew closer to his sons and told them that they had done a wonderful job in the face of all its challenges. He told them he was proud of them. There was no reprimand for the error made, no dissertation on how things could or should have been done. There was only parental love that flowed from him and glowed in the faces of his two boys. There was only an image of God’s love for us and the subsequent radiance of our response.
This was not a religious program. It was not meant to be a spiritual lesson. Yet, it was both, because I read it spiritually and took it to heart. You can have the same opportunity, if you choose.