Each morning since the first lockdown started, I have walked around a 2-kilometre route close to our house, along a footpath and through some woods. I have regularly picked some of the horse mushrooms that grow close to the path. I take them home, peel off the outer skin and fry them. I add them to my cooked breakfast or soup in the middle of the day. Their flavour is good and strong, and they are a big improvement on those sold in the supermarket. People who see me carrying them home will often question whether it is safe to eat them in case I have picked poisonous toadstools instead. I reassure them that all is OK, and I was taught by my parents to tell the difference and that I’ve been eating them for the last 6 months with no ill effect.
It has helped me reflect a little on how our upbringing equips us for life. My parents taught me to forage for blackberries, mushrooms elderberries and crab apples. I learnt to milk goats, make yogurt, and cheese from the milk and learn to play lots of family games. I was taught to cook, mend punctures on my bike and camp, even if it was in Wales where it always rained. I learnt that family was a priority and that knowing Jesus was the most important thing in life. Going to church every Sunday was part of life and praying together as a family was something we got used to, even if we were grumpy and did not want to. We did not have a TV, so learnt to entertain ourselves with projects or getting out into the woods and countryside around us.
Both my parents loved reading the Bible and could tell the bible stories well. They both prayed a lot and taught us to pray out loud too. So, when I encountered Jesus for myself there was already a platform for my newfound personal faith, and so I grew as a young believer and was involved in youth activities in church. There were lots of failings in our family too and I did not do so well in my late teens. It was an encounter with the Holy Spirit that helped bring me back on track and that was something my parents had not passed on. It was not in their experience. I had to learn it from others and that brought some conflict into the family.
The Bible encourages us to honour our father and mother and thank them, if we still can, for what they have done for us. As well as this we must learn from other Godly people to grow into what God has for us and take hold of our destiny. Discipleship – that is being trained by another, was part of the early churches normal growing process for every believer and it should be our normal today. In our culture at present it seems as if the role of family has been diluted and particularly the role of parents passing on their skills to the next generation has been lost. In its place the state, TV and the media, the iPad, Facebook, YouTube, peer pressure and our schools and Universities are our training ground and set out how we should live and what we should believe. This is a poor substitute to Godly parenting and the role of the church family in shaping our lives.
So, while we have the opportunity, lets pass on our skills to our children, both in terms of life skills, as well as our Christian heritage. Teaching our children to read and love the Bible with its many stories and heroes can be great fun. Getting them to pray and find answers from God is a skill we can help them with. Getting them to share their faith without embarrassment and fear is a great preparation for them too. If we do not have children or they are grown up we can, as the church family, be doing this with young believers at some level too. I have appreciated the training in distinguishing edible mushrooms from poisonous toadstools but much more, I honour and thank my parents as believers for what they sowed into me, that has helped me stay on fire for Jesus today.