For twenty years now Linda and I along with our daughters, their husbands and grandchildren having been getting together one week in the Summer to have extended family time. For fourteen years we’ve been going to Mt. Nebo State park outside Dardenelle, Arkansas. Nebo has become almost a second home for us in that we stay in the same house each year and tend to do many of the same things each year. Its a week of fun, laughter, memories and making new memories. It is also a time to catch up with what has been going on in the lives of each other and of the grandchildren.
When whole families get together the dynamics of the family tend to shine from every corner. Even though all the families there have the same backgrounds they change with every addition to the family and with every new growth in a grandchild’s life. When sixteen people gather in one house for a week it requires some willingness to go with the flow. Even in the family people are very different from one another. Habits are different, feelings are different and attitudes are different.
Because of the fact the family shares faith in the Lord it is always a time of spiritual growth along with family growth. With times of singing praise to God, prayer together and studying the Bible together, it leads to lots of sharing about life.
Whether we look into Scripture or into our own lives it is obvious that each family is unique. Perhaps the reason God so freely tells of the the challenges faced in the different families discussed in Scripture is to demonstrate to us that all families are flawed not just our own. Think of the earthly family of Jesus. It seems likely that his step father, Joseph died when most of the children in the family was small. Jesus had several brothers and at least two sisters. Since he was the oldest of the children he likely stepped in to become the leader of the family after the death of Joseph. He was thirty years old when he left the family to begin his ministry on the earth. Many quickly believed that he was the Messiah, the Son of God, but his own brothers were not among those believers. John tells us in chapter 7 that his brothers didn’t believe in him and even goaded him to go up to Jerusalem and make himself known if he was to be a prophet. Perhaps the most telling incident was when he was out teaching and his mother and brothers come to rescue him believing that he is out of his mind. When they tired to get through the crowd, the people told Jesus his mother and brothers were outside trying to get to him. He asked, “Who is my mother and my brothers? Are not you who believe my brother and sister and mother?”
After the resurrection we are certain that two of his brothers became strong believers in him, James who became an elder in the Jerusalem church and wrote the book of James and Jude who wrote the book encouraging people to stand for the truth. We know that Mary was with the 120 disciples that met in Jerusalem after his resurrection and before the beginning of the church.
But what is obvious is that family life, even in Nazareth, even in the growth and development of Jesus wasn’t always easy or simple. In all likelihood during his growing up years Jesus seemed like most of the other young men in the region. His fellow citizens of Nazareth couldn’t think of him in any other way than as the Carpenter who was the son of a carpenter. They were offended when he started teaching them and performing mighty miracles among them. At one point they even tried to throw him over the edge of the hill because of their anger.
Perfect families are only found in the movies. Faithful families who love God and each other can be found all over the place. One of the great secrets of great family life is when people are allowed to be who they are without trying to shove each member into a single mold. God can use all kinds of people to accomplish his work in the world.
I can’t wait for this week to come each year and to spend lots of time with each other. Perhaps even more it will be amazing to watch as each grandchild grows up to choose their own way to follow the Lord in their life.
God has always chosen to train his people through family and their family dynamics. I pray He will bless your family and ours this week that it may be full of him all the time.