Friday, August 8, 2014

Doing Family in 336 Hours

Nothing says leaving for college like this
chopping cart. And a tuition bill.

Last week, I posted what I said would be the first in a series of blog posts about the church. Reality, however, had other ideas. The reality is, that require a lot of research, thought, and above all, time. Time which I don't have right now until our last child leaves for college. 

That, if anyone is counting, is in exactly 2 weeks. Fourteen days. 336 hours, which translates to not enough hours to spend with this wonderful young woman before she flies away. 

For the next two weeks, I'll be enjoying my kid. And packing. And occasionally crying. Not where she can see. I won't be doing much researching.

So that series is postponed until September, and today, I want to talk about family. Precisely--why did God give us these creatures we get so attached to, to the point where we believe they are ours? What is family for? It's a question I answered last month, in fact, in an article in Light and Life Communications. Here is the answer I discovered.

When we took our three girls, then ages 6, 10, and 12, to China for a mission trip, we received responses ranging from, “You're so brave,” and “I wish I could do that,” to “You're completely out of your minds.” That last one was more common than is really polite, but I'm kind of used to it twelve years later. By this time, I believe that if people don't think we're out of our minds when we do God's mission as a family, we're doing it wrong.

When God blessed Abraham and gave him the promise of children (Genesis 12.2-3), his reasons went far beyond Abraham and Sarah. I will bless you...and you will be a blessing....and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” It's a pattern God set at this very foundation of his covenant with his people. I'm giving you this gift—now use it out there where people need it.

The modern western world has remembered mostly the first part.

Normally, we see family as a gift for us. God has blessed us with children, siblings, spouses, or others. People for us to love and live with, to support unconditionally and need deeply. While certainly true, what if that's not the way God's people were originally called to look at their families? What if our first calling is to take our children into the world and see them as blessings for the purpose of God's kingdom?

Maybe it means going on a mission trip with your kids. Maybe it means volunteering more with them at home, with service organizations or simply by helping out a neighbor. (See this link for some good ideas!) It could mean allowing your child to work through tough situations with a classmate or coach, teaching him to extend grace and forgiveness rather than jumping to “defend the tribe.” 

For some, it's meant living in a neighborhood others wouldn't choose because there are people there who need a blessing. Daily, it means keeping eyes open not only to see where others need us but where we can model a life of service for those who watch us.

I sometimes cry when I think of how empty this house is going to be in 336 hours. Three little girls once filled it with screams and skids and crazy cooking experiments gone awry. Art projects and K'Nex roller coasters that engulfed entire rooms. It will not ever sound quite right again. (Though it ought to be much cleaner, on the flip side.)

So we do this. While as can.
What I won't cry are tears of worry. I know why they were given to me. I know they know. I know they are ready, equipped, and excited to take on the world God has given them to bless. They aren't mine. They aren't even their own. They are their Lord's, who wants them to be for others. He is going to use these young women to shake up, and bless, this world.

How does it change our thinking to view our family as a gift for the purpose of blessing the world?

What changes to your schedule, priorities, or attitudes would be needed to make that shift?

No comments:

Post a Comment