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A Life Worth Imitating

Like a little boy who copies how his dad shaves in the morning or a daughter who picks up on her mother’s grace and intelligence while balancing work and family, our learned behavior as children of God happens the same way. Practice makes permanent as we perform the priorities of Christ.

When my wife was a young girl, her father abandoned the family. Her mother, sister, and two brothers were left homeless when Carmen was about ten years of age. Extended family pitched in where they could, and the grandparents took them in and protected them. Through a friend, Carmen’s mom came to know Christ and sought a better life for her family in California. Carmen's mother was a brave woman, determined that no matter how painful, she was going to see her children get an education. And she raised them to serve God.

My wife is a very generous person with a heart for the hurting and the humility to stoop down and wash the feet of those who look up to her.

Carmen has an old picture of her mom in Mexico, standing together with a group of revolutionary women ready for war. In the photo, Carmen’s mother has a rifle and a Bandolier across her chest—I’m glad she wasn’t wearing that when I asked for Carmen’s hand in marriage. I might have chickened out.

Mrs. Eulalia Bravo showed strength and resourcefulness at a time when it was harder for a woman to make it on her own. Women didn’t have the opportunities they now have in most countries. But she had faith in God’s provision and protection for her family. She wanted nothing other than to live a life that glorified her Heavenly Father. Her children were raised to know Who to put their trust in. They saw it lived out in practical ways every day through the decisions and actions of their mother.

Mrs. Bravo was ready to battle for whatever she believed in, including her commitment to Christ. Her faithfulness, God-given survival skills, and life experience were all instilled in her four children. Mostly she had to let go of her bitter past, allow the love of God through the Holy Spirit to take control of her life, and help her to forgive those who had wronged her.

This woman paid a tremendous price, endured hardships and abandonment, but you would not have known it. She could have ended up cold, hard and unforgiving, but she wasn’t. She didn’t look like a result of what her children’s father did to her. She displayed what their Heavenly Father did for her, and allowed the Holy Spirit to shape her life and character.

She was one of the meekest, most caring people you would ever meet, and she passed that compassion and gentleness on to her children. Today, I see the likeness of Mrs. Bravo in Carmen’s character.

My wife is a very generous person with a heart for the hurting and the humility to stoop down and wash the feet of those who look up to her. Part of that is how God designed her, but some of it came from the influence of her mother. Those traits and virtues have contributed to the success of our more than fifty years of marriage and ministry. My wife too, has allowed the Holy Spirit to shape her, and as a result, she’s influenced me and helped to mold our children, grandchildren, and spiritual children.

Just like our natural traits, our spiritual characteristics are part who we are at birth, when we are born again at the moment of salvation, and are partially strengthened over time and experience. The traits of God in ourselves by imitation and repetition blends with our inner wiring.

Paul said it—

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NKJV)


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