by Dale Reeves
My wife and I have a sign hanging over our fireplace mantel that says:
“FAMILY: A LITTLE BIT OF CRAZY
A LITTLE BIT OF LOUD &
A WHOLE LOT OF LOVE”
I love that this plaque is right in the middle of a couple of dinosaurs, a few rabbits, a bird, and some books. That’s because our three grandsons are just a little obsessed with dinosaurs right now, as well as all the animals the Lord God created, and Adam named in the Garden of Eden. This represents the hodgepodge of many things that are all part of what we call our family. Admittedly, there is more crazy in some families, more loud in others, and more love in still others.
I have a friend named Rick who is a retired pastor who grew up with a very crazy set of circumstances. His grandmother ran away at the age of sixteen and joined the circus and was married eight times. His mother was raised in foster care after she was abandoned in a bar by her parents. His father had moved fourteen times by the time he was in the eighth grade. He quit school and got married at the age of eighteen. Rick was fond of saying, “My family put the ‘fun’ in dysfunction.” Rick first heard about God’s love for him at a high school retreat, and he was the first one in his family to give his life to Christ.
Out of His Mind
Your family might not be as crazy as Rick’s, but guess what? No one lives in a perfect family. No one! Even Jesus’ family in the Bible had its issues. His family thought Jesus was crazy. The Gospel of Mark tells us: “One time Jesus entered a house, and the crowds began to gather again. Soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat. When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. ‘He’s out of his mind,’ they said” (Mark 3:20, 21, NLT). His family was blinded enough by their sin to mistake Jesus’ teachings for the ravings of a man suffering from insanity. We know from Scripture that four of Jesus’ brothers are named, and he had at least two sisters (whose names we do not know). So, at the very least, Jesus came from a family of at least seven kids. Familiarity with him may have caused them to not see him for the perfect Son of God that he was. Another time we read in John’s Gospel, “Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!’ For even his brothers didn’t believe in him” (John 7:3-5, NLT).
Can you imagine some of the conversations that must have occurred in their home in Nazareth? Can you imagine growing up in that house with Jesus? Do you think his mother Mary ever said to his brothers:
“Just once I wish you boys would clean up after yourselves! Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus? You know he studies the law and tells the teachers of the law what they should be teaching about”?!?
“Yeah, but, mom, he ran away from you and dad. He got lost and you guys were worried sick about him.”
“Yes, but, then he told us he had to be at the temple about his heavenly Father’s business.”
“Yeah . . . OK . . . right . . . sure, Mom. Whatever you want to believe about your perfect Son.”
A Little Bit of Loud
Every family has its own set of problems. Every family has its share of noise—either physical or emotional or mental noise. Every kid grows up at some point wishing he or she were part of another family. I remember the day our daughter Courtney (four years old at the time), approached her Papaw in Tennessee and said to him, “Papaw, I need to have a serious talk with you. I want to come and live with you and Mamaw.” Now, we weren’t abusing our daughters, and she had a pretty decent life growing up in Pleasant Run, but she wanted to go and live with her grandparents. What goes around comes around. Every now and then, our grandson Luke cries when he has to leave our house and go home when his mother (our daughter Courtney) picks him up from her day of teaching school. Recently my great nephew Judah said to his papaw, after he and his siblings were helping pick up sticks in their back woods, “I thought coming to Papaw’s house was supposed to be fun!”
Last summer was a bit crazy for so many families as summer activities were put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19. There were pros and cons that came with this. Yes, many families missed out on traveling somewhere for vacation. Others enjoyed taking up new hobbies together, playing board games, watching shows together, and having lots of good conversation at home. Parents were going into work less time last year, and spending more time with their kids. There was a silver lining for families last year.
What about this summer? What kind of loud activities do you have planned for your kids or grandkids? What kind of reflective experiences do you have planned for your family? What kind of plans have you made for this year? Not just travel and vacation plans to the beach, national parks, visiting friends and family, trips to amusement parks, zoos, and museums—but what other things have you built into your family time this summer? I would encourage you not to abandon what you learned last year about the importance of quality family time. Rather, build on the relational equity established in 2020.
A Whole Lot of Love
One of my prayers last year during the shutdown was that God would use this time to bring families back to healthy relationships with each other and with him. I have continued praying that prayer this year as well. What Satan meant for bad (trying to tear the family unit apart), God meant for good. Even though there are forces of evil in our country that would seek to redefine what family means, God’s definition for family still is true. His idea of family does not need to be reinvented in our culture today. Because the family is still the backbone of good in our society, and is the backbone of great churches, it is God’s ordained method of bringing people into relationship with him. When people have not had the privilege of being brought up in a godly home with godly parents, then it is the job of the redeemed people in their lives to help lead them to Jesus. And, that is why the family unit and the church are still the hope of the world.
You may have grown up in a home that was all about just trying to “keep the law” of whatever your parents perceived were the most important things for you to do—or not do! Because of that lack of grace-filled parenting, you may have grown up viewing God as someone who is just waiting for you to mess up, break his law, and then you just had to accept whatever punishment was coming your way.
As we talked about yesterday at Christ’s Church, there is a huge difference between trying to obey the law flawlessly and accept the freedom and love Jesus offers. On the cross, Jesus fulfilled the law’s requirements by shedding his blood for our forgiveness and paying the debt we owed. And, because our debt has been paid, we can live without bondage and are free to serve one another in love. The apostle Paul instructs us, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8, NIV). That love begins in our homes.
Can I ask you a personal question today? When people look at your life and family relationships, would they say you exhibit a “whole lotta love”? Regardless of how crazy or loud your home life might be, it can be full of a whole lotta love! And, that is my prayer for you today.