Close-Knit Family, Family-Values, Family-Friendly: These phrases are used to appeal to our senses when looking for a new church, considering which movie to watch, or shopping for a new vehicle. The consideration of family drives many of our decisions, and yet we see regularly see families torn apart in so many ways. Divorce may be the ultimate divider, but maybe not. In the fifty percent of marriages that do honor their vows “until death do we part” it seems relational strife between spouses, siblings, and in parent-child relationships are often accepted as normal, causing many to dismiss the angst this strife often brings with a passing pun, or a barbed retort. Even in our churches, where we talk about the “abundant life” Christ has to offer, these struggles are often no less frequent; Why?
I have experienced in my own life the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. This may speak of information I knew intellectually, though it took time, experience, and a few hard knocks, to make its way down to my heart. Or perhaps it speaks to the much easier route: Accepting God’s truth through faith from the beginning.
Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, he who builds in labors in vain.” To enjoy the fruits of the “abundant life” in our homes, necessarily requires the Lord’s building. This means – not necessarily the surrender of, but – the surrender of the right to our vanities. The release of those things which hinder us from allowing the Lord to build our homes. So how do we do this?
Like any investment, it requires a willingness to delay gratification: to deny selfish spending of our time, money, energy in the moment so that we might know a greater future return. This may require that we reorder our lives by; Forsaking the corporate ladder for the family tree, trading in our sports car for a minivan, or giving up the bowling league in favor of family-game-night.
However, it is more than simply spending time together, it is about making our relationship with our Heavenly Father and each other a normal part of our life, through – not just going to church together – but through leading our families in prayer, devotions, and simply looking for those learning moments to naturally talk about life, faith, and truth. By sharing our hearts, our passions, and our hopes with our families, through the Deuteronomy 6 method, as we get up, lie down, and walk along the path, and by looking for opportunities to play, work, and serve together.
We can live in the same house as utter strangers, or we can invest our time, our faith, and our love into the lives of our family members and in that process we allow the Lord to ultimately be the builder of our home.
This will certainly not negate the difficulties of life, but it will give us peace and hope and allow our families to thrive as we navigate through this life together.