I am a preacher’s kid.
When my sister and I were growing up, we lived in a house owned by the church. I have wonderful memories of the parsonage. Tithe money from the members of the church supported us and part of the arrangement was that the church would pay the utilities of the parsonage.
My mother took seriously that we were living in the house that was supported with tithe money. All of our comings and goings were governed with the philosophy that our sustenance physically was provided by God through God’s people. That meant that we would have to be good stewards of what God had given us.
Mother’s No. 1 rule was that we did not keep on unnecessary lights and we didn’t waste water when taking a bath! She was aware if lights were left on in any room we were not using so Mother would go along behind us, turning lights off and giving a little speech at the same time! She always reminded us that it was people’s tithe, the Lord’s money, that paid for our electricity.
This conservation mindset was also in effect at bath time. Susie and I had a tendency to run the water too high and soak in the tub. I remember, as a teenager, I would turn on the radio and wanted to take hour-long hot baths.
But mother grew up during the Depression. She’s frugal and an example of a brilliant saver. From aluminum foil to plastic grocery bags to cottage cheese containers, Mother’s philosophy is that everything can be used somewhere at another time. More importantly, she’s good at managing what God has given her.
Mother always said to my sister and me: “Now tithe money pays for our hot water. You can take just as good a bath and get just as clean in a little water. You don’t have to run it clear to the top. We must be good stewards of God’s money.”
That’s where I first became cognizant of what being a good steward was.
Susie and I always had to take a bath in a little water. Those rare times when I was at home and mother wasn’t around, I cheated and ran it three quarters of the way full, but I always felt guilty.
The funny thing was that when we went on vacation, Susie and I looked forward to staying at a motel because there we thought we could fill the bathtub full and not worry that we were using the Lord’s money.
Peter wrote: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
My parents were virtuous stewards of the grace that had been bestowed upon them. Their focus in life, the compass that guided their steps, their mindsets and goals were all ones aimed at glorifying God. They cherished their calling and their relationship with God. They were grateful to God because of the grace that he had given them and, as a result, their lives were aimed on living the kind of life that would glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, the message of conserving water spoke so deeply to me.
All this past week, Susie and I have kept vigil at Mother’s bedside while she has been recovering from a stroke. Even during those days, I was moved many times.
My gratefulness to God included those moments of grace during those worried days in the medical intensive care unit at Covenant Hospital in Lubbock.
Witnessing Mother’s great improvement, the kindness and expertise of the doctors, nurses, and the helpfulness of the hospital staff reminded me again that I should live every area of my life in total obedience and thankfulness toward God.
As I think of that bathtub story today, I am thankful for my mother, the lessons she taught me, and the life of grace she still lives. I suppose that bathtub experience was a giant step in my grace walk.
Thank you, Mother.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College.