When my bride and I decided to make the move to Florida, one of the key areas for consideration was our kids and grandkids and their feelings about it.
We sat down with them all together at Christmas time and discussed our decision to make this move. They did not know it at the time, but any one of them could have vetoed the move with a simple “No!”
But they all said “Yes!” and we were committed to make this significant change!
Now, I will admit, some of those feelings changed as we became more definite about the move, but their initial response was an overwhelming “Go for it!” – so we did!
That was almost a year-and-a-half ago, and we still feel the same today as we did then. Yes, we do miss our kids and grandkids. But we talk with them every week or so.
And now, we are all TV stars! – at least in our own families, what with various means of video messaging and the like. And in just a couple of months we will be seeing them in person as well!
This is the season for thinking about the FAMILY! What with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and vacations and family outings ahead of us, we are in the season where our thoughts go to sentimentality and pleasant thoughts about those who have been blessed (or is the word “challenged” appropriate?) to not only give us life but to sacrifice of themselves in order to put bread on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our carcasses.
They have gone to countless numbers of school plays, field trips, concerts, PTO meetings, athletic games, science fairs, scholastic competitions, pep rallies, bonfires, youth retreats, and high school assemblies.
Not only that, but they have praised us when we’ve been obedient, disciplined us when we’ve been disobedient, encouraged us when we’ve been down, nursed us when we’ve been sick, hugged us when we’ve been sad, challenged us when we’ve been wrong.
And loved us through it all.
Some years ago in a publication entitled “Fingertip Facts”, the following thoughts were written about the family: “A place of warmth when the world is cold; a place of safety when the world is hostile; a place of light when the world is dark — this is a family … It is the core around which great nations are built. It is the foundation of any great society. A family is many things: a family is love around the dinner table; devotion walking to church together; friendship laughing under the same roof. A family is mother singing in the kitchen; father whistling around the house; children playing in the yard. A family is a light on the front porch on a dark night. A family is happy songs around a piano … A family is a cheering section when a victory is won; a family is a very private organization …
“Rudyard Kipling once wrote about families, ‘All of us are we—and everyone else is they.’ A family shares things like dreams, hopes, possessions, memories, smiles, frowns, and gladness … A family is a clan held together with the glue of love and the cement of mutual respect. A family is shelter from the storm, a friendly port when the waves of life become too wild. No person is ever alone who is a member of a family.”
Now, in those words, there is a bit of irony. I know for families these days, the statements made thus far here may or may not be expressions of your own personal experience.
Families today are often disjointed and dysfunctional (but aren’t we all – in away?), and things may not go just as we wish they would, but the principles are still the same.
What should be true in every home should also be true in every church as well. God consistently referred to His relationship with the children of Israel as that of a Father loving His children. And Jesus used the picture of a family when He contrasted the life of a follower of Christ to a life of slavery to sin (Check out John 8:35-36: “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”).
Made up of individual believers who know the truth as seen in Jesus Christ the Son of God, the church is indeed the family of God
Some years ago Bill and Gloria Gaither expressed the same feelings in song and verse when they wrote, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God, I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Joint-heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, For I’m part of the family, the family of God.” (William J. Gaither, 1970)
So, my friends, whether we are talking about a biological or physical, or spiritual relationship, as you travel this spring and summer, going to the barbecues, vacations, outings, and reunions, ENJOY YOUR FAMILY! God does!
Oh, and by the way, if you see a neighbor or a friend who doesn’t have a family, and you do, reach out to them and include them in yours, as you are able!
One of the great joys we have had since moving south is just that – of reaching out to our neighbors and inviting them to join us!
That will please God — and give you goose bumps!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Hillsboro Times-Gazette and the Wilmington News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Faith Community Church in Hillsboro and Port William UMC.