Love from God; demonstrated through family
As I recall certain moments in which my heart was so full of love, demonstrated through and by my earthly biological family, I now realize I was actually experiencing God’s love, through what is known as “common grace”. The grand meta-narrative within all lives is God revealing Himself through creation, His creatures, and Biblical revelation. Recalling specific cherished memories of love from and for family, sealed in my mind, are evidence, that our Triune God blesses us with our earthly family, to enable us to more adequately recognize God’s immutable, unconditional, immeasurable, perfect love. Our love for God, obeying the first greatest commandment “Love thy God”, and the second greatest commandment “love thy neighbor” provides the ability to expand our family, to include “spiritual brothers and sisters”. Our spiritual family are those who have been called by our Heavenly Father, to know Jesus Christ as Lord, quickened by the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual family is the eternal visible and invisible church, filled with believers of Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior and God. We are assured eternal life in Heaven, where we will see the face of Jesus Christ, as we worship Him together. What a magnificent and glorious thought, which is our greatest hope! Our merciful God blesses us with mysterious bonds of love and a deep connectedness with our “spiritual” family, even though we are not biologically related. When God brings us together through providence, we inexplicably feel an instant love and desire to be with one another, sharing our experiences of His sovereign will, also yearning to worship our Lord God in unity. We desire to share the Gospel with the lost, so they too may become part of God’s designed family, knowing Jesus as Lord, living in eternal glory. Though Heaven is described in the Bible, none of us know how utterly glorious it will be until we are there.
On a personal note, I wish to illustrate my point, through a story from my childhood. Having been born into a family with ten children, it was our common routine to start and end the day, completing chores together. As a little girl, on a early winter morning, my siblings were so eager and excited to see the deep snow which accumulated on the ground, that they burst outside, instead of coming into the kitchen to begin the morning routine with our mother. They began to play in the snow, building snowmen, snow-forts, and gleefully made snow angels. My mother invited me to help her in the kitchen with our daily preparations. I cherished and delighted in her warm invitation. Wondering what my brothers and sisters were doing, I etched some ice from the window on the door, to peek out and watch their delight. However, my mother’s invitation was inexplicably and indescribably more appealing to me. The kitchen was already warm and filling with the wondrous and familiar aromas of fresh yeast-bread rising and coffee brewing. She bent down and placed over my head my red and white polka-dotted apron and at that moment when I turned around to finish making the bow tighter in front, so my apron wouldn’t slip, she suddenly and quite gently placed her soft hands on my face, as if cupping my cheeks ever so delicately. I was surprised, and as I looked into her eyes, I saw a tender and loving sparkle in her bright blue eyes which was utterly loving and it warmed my heart and soul. She looked into my eyes for what seemed a very long time, with a soft smile, and said “Darling, I hope you know how much I love you, I am so blessed to have a five year old daughter, who enjoys these things”. And at the end of her words she kissed me on my forehead. My innocent youthful mind wondered why she said this, for I had worked beside her, every day, preparing meals, as well as many other chores. But, as I pondered her loving words, I felt as if she spoke something almost sacred, as if she had spoken something privately sent from heaven. Her voice sounded similar to when she read the Bible to us, each day. I yearned for that deep, and seemingly divine connection to extend forever. But, quickly, she grabbed my step-stool and placed it near the counter, so I could begin rolling out the dough for our cinnamon rolls, as she efficiently and joyfully continued working. As I placed the sugar and cinnamon filled dough into three large glass baking pans, my mother looked at my finished work and gave an approving smile. She was busy cooking bacon, sausage and eggs in the large cast iron pan, singing her favorite hymns. She had an amazing feminine and melodic voice, which brought deep joy to my heart. I treasured hearing the words which described Jesus and our Heavenly Father. The kitchen was filled with a mixture of delicious aromas of cinnamon, bacon, coffee, and hot cocoa. How I loved the familiarity, and creativity of all things which my mother prepared in that kitchen. But what I especially loved above all else, was just being with her. Now as an adult, what I cherish more deeply is my mother’s evident godly love, displayed through her hard sacrificial labor, gentle sweet gestures and intentional efforts for me to know Jesus Christ as Lord.
Another experience, as an adult, which I recall ever so clearly, was on the day I was packing for our annual “girls’ pre-Christmas weekend”, with my five year old daughter. I was neatly placing my daughter’s clothing into our shared small overnight suitcase. She was giddy with excitement to help me pack, as she reminded me to put her Bible in as I finished. She smiled and said “thank you mama, I love you!” As she lifted her red wool coat, for me to help her get into, she spun around, thrilled with excitement about our trip, and said “hurry mama, let’s get going!” She asked me to button her coat, as she swung her pink scarf around her neck.
Both ready and eager to go, we loaded the car and proceeded on our trip. To our surprise it began to snow! It was a light snowfall, yet with the unusually large airy snowflakes which float and dance ever so delicately about in the air, which also tend to accumulate all too quickly. I was a bit concerned seeing the snow rapidly covering the roads, and didn’t want my daughter to get nervous. I had to slow down significantly, which she immediately noticed and queried “why are you going so slow mama?” I told her we needed to be safe, since snow is slippery and unpredictable. Pleased with my answer she joyfully reached to turn on her favorite tape, a Christian hymn tape. At the stop light I looked at my daughter who was softly singing the words, with such a sweet, innocent little girl sound, it made my heart swell with love for her.
When we carefully arrived our destination, I attempted to pull my car up our friend’s driveway, but we were hindered, as there were large snow banks blocking the entrance, from the local country snow plows. We had to park fairly far from her house on the country street. I told my daughter to wait for me to get out of the car first, so I could help her get out safely. As she slid down to the ground, I held onto her hands, firmly, but gently assisting her to the slippery ground. I quickly knelt down onto the cold icy snow, and began re-buttoning her coat. When I looked at her face to see if she was getting cold, I was a bit startled to see that she was looking intently into my eyes, smiling. Her hazel eyes sparkled with a gleam and twinkle. I was mesmerized by her small angelic face; porcelain skin, tiny nose dotted with seven freckles, framed by her dark brown hair which was now elegantly laced with snowflakes. I found her innocence simply astounding. Her joy and patience also caught my attention. Realizing how deeply I loved her, I recognized that “simple” moment was a gift given by God. A bit emotional, my voice caught, when I said, “Do you know that I love you sweet little pumpkin?!” She threw her arms around my neck so tightly, as my eyes began to well up with tears. Noticing my tears she asked, “mama, are those happy tears?” I said “you know they are love tears… for you, right?!” Smiling, she wiped one tear with her little mitten hand, and energetically nodded.
We got our suitcase and made our way through the deep snow drifts up the driveway. Immediately my mind recalled “that” special day in the kitchen with my mother. Why? I suppose it was God reminding me that He is the “Giver” of all things, and a reminder to never take for granted the pure, divine blessings of family. At that moment I realized how vitally important my role was as her earthly mother; to help her know Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord. Now a woman, she has grown up hearing the Bible read daily, memorized numerous hymn songs and has a solid foundation of attending church, understanding the gift of our “universal spiritual family” . That day so long ago, I praised God, thanking Him for that sacred time He had blessed me to enjoy. God’s presence, grace and perfect holy love are made manifest through our families.
Through years of daily Biblical study, every Lords’ Day filled with good expository preaching, has brought me to a deeper understanding of the importance of family, both types, biological and spiritual. Our divine Creator who reveals Himself through all of creation and creatures. (Rom. 1), is the only One who we can attribute the blessing of family. Whereby we are brought to a deeper reverence, awe, gratitude, and love for God, for such great blessings. These blessings give each of us the opportunity to serve and obey Him as we mature in our walk.
As I thank God for my grandparents, parents, extended family, siblings, husband and daughter, for demonstrating His amazing love and grace, by blessing me with an extraordinary family, I thank Him for including brothers and sisters all over the world who love Jesus Christ. This brings me to wonder why a Christian would even hesitate to expand our spiritual family. I have wondered why our contemporary “Christian” culture isn’t sharing the greatest gift we can give, eternal life, through the Gospel?
As Jesus commanded, numerous times, and as we read from Matthew 28: 19, 20- “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” At all costs, and regardless of any type of sacrifice on our part, even persecution, we must obey our God’s command. And when we do so, we will be filled with inexplicable joy, knowing we are obeying our Triune God, partaking in building His kingdom, thus, expanding our spiritual family. Remarkably, God blesses us with a supreme elation, as we open God’s Word, and share the Gospel to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as Lord. Though God does not need our help, He generously grants us the joy of sharing in His divine redemptive plan. Recognizing we do not deserve such a great gift, we must obey Him. In some instances we may witness the Holy Spirit divinely opening another’s spiritual eyes, from darkness to light, embracing the Gospel, becoming a child of God! If we do not see a response, we have obediently sown the seeds, knowing the Holy Spirit is the One who will soften a hard rebellious heart, miraculously.
Each and every time we share the Gospel, we are loving our “neighbor”, who was once damned to hell, for all eternity, now capable of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ as their Lord God! Sharing the Gospel is surely the utmost highest insurmountable privilege God blesses us to participate in. As we prayerfully ask for wisdom, humility and love, the Holy Spirit will guide our words, never fear. It is my prayer that all Christians’ pray, and ask for a deeper desire to love God, His Word, obey Scripture, turning from the ever-increasing banal distractions of this world, to zealously and fervently obey the “Great Commission”, expanding God’s spiritual family! (Rom. 10:14-17) May God bless you. Amen.