“Hey, Dad, what do you think…..?” I hear those words or ones similar about once a week from one of our adult children who call for advice or just to share the latest news about life. Phones and email keep our family connected despite being scattered along the East Coast of the USA. Their requests for advice, prayer, or encouragement are never an imposition, never too much because we are family! The importance of an intact family unit cannot be over-emphasized. One of the leading predictors of a child’s academic and social success is his family of origin. A child who is raised in a dysfunctional family environment or one who goes through the breakup of his family either because of death or divorce has a much difficult road to travel to adulthood.
In addition to being part of the Scott (by birth) and Catalano (by marriage) clans, I am part of another family, too: the family of God (by Divine adoption). I realized again the importance of that family this week. I felt the darkness of spiritual attack settle over me. I do not know why these times come, but they are a spiritual ‘flu’ that hit me every now and then. Terrible feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy fight to control my thoughts. Prayer becomes a major struggle. Doubts about the love of God and fears of the future crash through my mind like a stormy ocean’s waves crashing over a seawall. Are these times based in my physical body, coming from some chemical imbalance in my brain? Are they spiritual in nature, attacks by the demons of darkness? Are they a combination of both? Probably! Without being overly dramatic, whatever the origin, those seasons of my life are terrible, and in times past, I thought I would be destroyed. With maturity, I have learned to hang on ’til the storm passes over.
Tuesday of this week, as I was struggling with the darkness, I reached out to the ‘family of God’ of which I am part. What blessed ministry they offered to me – encouraging words, and best of all, prayers that went up. A couple of saints took time from their own busy lives to come and pray with me and over me with powerful intercession. And, bless God, the Light broke through. It is hard for me to ask for prayer and support, because of a sense that as a shepherd of God’s people it is somehow wrong to turn from the one who serves into the one who is served. Yes, you’re right. That’s really just an expression of a silly macho pride! I am a member of God’s great big family and I am foolish not to draw on the rich resources of it.
David exults in the joy of being part of God’s family. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” (Psalm 68:5-6, NIV)
Woven through St. Paul’s letters to the Christian churches is the theme of familial care that should characterize the relationships of those who are Believers. His favorite descriptive words for those in the church are brother and sister. “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, NIV)
Are you strengthening your ties to God’s family?
Take every opportunity to pray for others, seeking God’s favor for His family.
Keep the connection strong by quickly dealing with conflict and by stepping over the inevitable offenses that will arise in the church, just like they do in our natural families.
Be forgiving, open, honest, and loving.
Take this word from the Word with you today and meditate on it, even as you praise God for the gift of His great family.
“Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully.
Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (1 Peter 4:8-11, The Message)