It was a Friday night about two months ago, but the experience keeps coming back.

Our family had been to a movie on Afghanistan, and we decided to eat something in a downtown restaurant. As we enjoyed our meal, we noticed a foursome in the booth opposite ours. There were three girls and a boy.

“Last night,” one of the girls boasted, “we began playing cards at eleven o’clock and played until six this morning.”

“What would you say is her age?” I asked our fourteen-year-old son, Kay.

“About fifteen,” he said.

Then the language in that booth became vulgar, and I began to rise to my feet to speak to the four. But before I stood, they were moving out of the restaurant.

The questions that keep returning to me are: Where was that girl’s mother when she sat up all night playing cards? Where was her father? Do they care?

Then I asked myself the question: What kind of watcher are you?

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the one thing the world needs in these challenging days of disorder among youth is better watchers at home.

We need to heed the counsel of a chief priest in Judah who lived about 850 B.C. His name was Jehoiada. Athaliah, the wicked queen, had ordered all the princes put to death at that time. Then she put herself on the throne. Meanwhile, one of the princes, Joash, was hidden in the house of the Lord. Later, Jehoiada assembled the rulers of hundreds in the Lord’s house and asked them to keep watch on the little prince.

Jehoiada’s words to the watchers nearly three thousand years ago are good counsel for today:

“… so shall ye keep watch of the house. …” (2 Kgs. 11:6.)

The watchers did heed the high priest’s words, and the little prince, Joash, did become king of Judah at seven. Jehoiada became his adviser. The idols of Baal were destroyed, and the people turned to the Lord.

Our five-year-old daughter recently arrived home from kindergarten upset. She greeted her mother: “Mom, I’m glad you’re here.” What a strength and comfort is a mother who is a watcher.

In years past we have had a number of winter calls at our front door between midnight and 2:00 A.M. The callers were usually young people on dates who had driven their cars up our hillside to view the city lights below and had become stuck in the snow on the narrow road. I recall a winter night when two young boys about high school age rang our doorbell after midnight. They asked to use the phone, which was not unusual. But the priority of their telephone calls was unusual. They did not call a friend or a wrecker to come and help them get their car out. They did not first ask us for a chain or a shovel. Their first phone call was to the mothers of the two young girls with them. The young men apparently knew that those mothers were watchers.

What kind of men and women are our children going to become? We pray that they will make something of themselves and walk uprightly before the Lord. I sincerely believe that what they become will depend in good measure on how their parents “keep the watch of the house.”

[illustrations] Art by William Whitaker