Tuesday, March 22, 2011
THE FAMILY CIRCLE
When you are up to your ears in diapers with dinner to cook and a house to clean, there are times when you wonder if life will ever slow down just a little more! Then, the day comes, as it has for me, when the house is empty and quiet. Our four children have all grown up, and it seems to have happened overnight. Now we are grandparents of four with a fifth blessing on the way.
Only two weeks ago, all of our children descended on our home to visit, and once again, the house rang out with happy laughter, children playing and busy activity in the kitchen. It was a delight to share time together and it made me smile in my heart. However, one by one, everyone had to return to their homes and their busy lives. As I cleaned each room, I lingered for a moment reflecting on all the storybooks I read, all the injured knees I bandaged and all the wonderful long talks we shared together while the children were growing up. In that moment, I could identify with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who treasured up in her heart all the things she witnessed as her Son grew.
From the very beginning of the Bible all the way to the end, it is clear that God instituted marriage and the family as the foundation of stability and protection for His creation. Throughout the Old Testament, we find countless references to the lineage of the Patriarchs and other leaders. Long lists of people from each tribe is seen in the Book of Numbers. Then, in the New Testament, Matthew is very careful to list the lineage of our Lord Jesus Christ. In short, God worked within the family to bring forth His plan of salvation. With that in mind, lets look at several elements of the family that make it a good environment for us to grow in our faith.
First, the family provides a place of love and nurturing. In the Garden of Eden, God created a man and a woman and brought them together in marriage that they may be fruitful and multiply. Unfortunately, the picture of a perfect family was shattered by sin, but God promised that a Redeemer would come who would redeem fallen mankind.
In the Book of Exodus, the Ten Commandments further clarified not only man's relationship to God but also to one another. This is especially true of the marriage covenant and the way in which children are to respond to their parents. When God is obeyed and put first in a family, harmony and love prevail.
Another area that family touches is instruction. The book of Deuteronomy in chapter six and verses 6-9 speaks specifically about meditating on God's Word and teaching them to our children. We are not to do this one time only or even once a week but throughout the day. This was one of the main benefits I saw when we home educated our children. We were able to bring God into every area we studied and spend extra time in the Bible. Whether parents choose to home educate or not, the family should be the place of first instruction when it comes to teaching God's Word, praying, and setting a good example for children in how to worship. I remember very well my Grandfather Engel reading the Bible to me even when I was very young. I may not have understood all the stories he read, but I knew that this was an important part of our family life.
Grammie holding Branson
Finally, the family is where we gain an understanding of how to resolve conflicts, how to live in harmony, how to forgive, and how to encourage one another towards a goal. Within this safe haven, we have the opportunity to develop a healthy view of life if the family is centered on Christ. Without the Lord, as we have seen in our world today, the family unit struggling to survive. Even Christian families are having difficulties in this increasingly secular society. It is critically important, therefore, to pray and seek to support all the families in our church fellowship along with those in our community and especially to ask God's protection on our own family.
Our time with our children is very short before they leave and move out on their own. By honoring our marriage vows, living and walking by the Spirit, and instructing our children and/or our grandchildren in the Word of God we will strengthen the family unit. This, in turn, builds up the church which consists of many families. If we want a better world, nation, city or church, we must first begin with the family. This was God's design from the beginning. May we be found faithful in our call to build our homes on the solid Rock of Jesus Christ. Selah!
I want to invite you my readers to make some comments on how God is working in your family. What brings you together? How do you encourage each other in the faith? I look forward to hearing from you as we share our walk together.