At least the scenery was beautiful, hills carpeted in autumn colors, green valleys and lakes reflecting the clear blue skies, red barns, silver silos, white rail fencing snaking over the rolling pastures. Then suddenly we passed an old homestead. The barn had fallen in on itself, the fencing was obscured by weeds and grass. Even the foundation lay in a heap of crumbled rubble—except for the red brick fireplace that stood straight and solid in the center of the home site.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many fires had warmed the house when it stood, and how many generations had gathered around that hearth before the house was finally destroyed. And wasn’t it intriguing that something big enough and strong enough to destroy a house would leave a fireplace completely unscathed? No crumbling, no cracks, not even any smoke damage.
Hearths have symbolized warmth, security and traditional family values for centuries. Just as today our kitchens tend to be the center of the home, the hearth was that center in earlier times. And just like that fireplace that stood alone after the destruction of the house, when our life takes a bad turn, the home and family you come from can be the reason you make it through those times.
The values instilled by your parents can make you or break you. Work ethic, determination, integrity, honesty, and above all, service to God and others—these are the things that will help you stand when others fall. And these are the things your children need to see and hear in you for exactly the same reasons.
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, the old saying goes, but it’s actually a pair of hands, maybe 3 or 4 pairs—parents and grandparents that mold young minds through teaching and especially example. God meant for us to be their role models, not some famous athlete, singer, or actor, not some politician or businessman, not even some big name preacher.
Long after you are gone, that fireplace will stand in your child’s heart. No matter what comes his way, what you have taught him will see him through. Be sure you have laid the bricks well.
Things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done…which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; Ps 78:3-7.