Let me begin by saying, “I think the word piety gets a bad rap. For many of us, piety has a negative connotation.” Let’s clear the air. Before saying what piety is, let’s say what piety is not. It is NOT following a list of rules, outdoing our neighbors through acts of service or separating ourselves from the world for the sake of purity.
One of my favorite Old Testament characters is Noah—not because he was a great shipbuilder—but because he models piety for me in a way I can understand.
Genesis 6:8-9 says “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.”
The favor Noah found in the eyes of the Lord was God’s acceptance and love, also known as grace. Noah responded to this grace by walking with God in relationship and inviting Him into all aspects of his life. In Hebrew, “blameless” as it is used here doesn’t mean perfect; it means whole or complete. Noah loved God completely, with singleness of heart.
But, what does piety look like in the real world? Let me give you an example.
This summer, I was serving on staff for GrandCamp, and it was my turn to offer the morning devotion. For those of you who haven’t heard of GrandCamp, it’s a five-day camp for grandparents and grandchildren, ages six to twelve.
The devotion I was assigned to deliver was Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”
I decided to model a trust walk. I invited a grandfather and his twelve-year-old granddaughter to the front of the room. The granddaughter agreed to be blindfolded with her grandfather as her guide. She was blindfolded and placed beside the windows at the far side of the room. I intended for her grandfather to find a niche, directly across from her; instead, he went to the opposite corner of the room. My heart sank. She was going to have a tough time navigating the rows of chairs, blindfolded.
Meanwhile, I instructed the remaining grandparents and grandchildren, seventy-five in all, to create clamor by making an assortment of animal sounds.
The trust walk began when the grandfather called, “Sweetheart, come to me.”
I watched in amazement as the granddaughter fixed her ears on her grandfather’s voice. At one point, she got stuck trying to navigate her way into one of the aisles. She couldn’t hear her granddad’s voice through the din of the crowd, so she stopped until she heard him call.
The trust walk was a huge success, because the granddaughter trusted in her grandfather instead of herself. She acknowledged him by listening to his voice above the din of the crowd, and he directed her path.
When she reached the back of the room, her grandfather said, “You’re home now. Just walk straight to me.” Her relief was visible as she practically ran and collapsed into his arms. It was a poignant moment.
If I have any new year’s resolutions, it’s to practice the piety modeled that morning at GrandCamp. I want to ignore the din of the world, listening instead to the voice of my Savior. I want to move when He says move, even if it’s only one step at a time. And when He calls me home, I want to run and collapse in His arms, assured of His love. That’s what piety means to me.