Good morning my friends,
What is family to you? Is it just a collection of people who get on your nerves from time to time? Is it a brother or sister you feel obligated to stay in touch with? To my students I ask is it a place of restraints, a place of rules, a place of constant tension? Or is family a unit of people who learn together, grow together and work out differences together? Is it a place where you can be you and feel accepted and loved? Is it a safe place? Is it a learning place? Is it a place of life-long ties?
The face of families have certainly changed over the years. Although two parent families are still the majority in Canada they are no longer the vast majority. Now we have many single parent families, blended families, and grandparent led families. Yet, the purpose of family still remains the same. Some are better at it than others. Some parents put all their energy into it, determined they will have a great family. Other parents are only able to be part-time parents. Some have abdicated their responsibilities to other caregivers. Yet, it is all still family.
Jacob had an interesting family. Twelve sons. I have four sons and I have my hands full. I cannot imagine trying to keep track of twelve of them. According to today’s standards it was a typical dysfunctional family, but then again, what family is not dysfunctional? Perhaps that is the one thing that irks me about our age of gurus and self-help books; people are looking for perfection. We have no example of perfection in the Word of God except for Jesus Christ.
Jacob’s family was a mess, filled with liars, manipulators, would-be killers. Perhaps our family is not this bad but it is most likely a mess as well. There are probably times of heated debates, times of disobedience, times when children put parents in awkward positions. There are children who will fight, lie, cheat at school, steal, and argue with parents. There are moms who will not do what mothers are supposed to do. Dads who are absentee dads. At times the family will not even feel like a family. Welcome to the reality of our lives, to biblical times, to the truth of the matter; we are all mess ups.
Did you take note though of Jacob and Joseph? They started off pretty rough, the two of them born to different times. Jacob went through a lot and he messed up a lot, but after his rededication to God he settled down and things started turning around for him. It was the same for Joseph.
Joseph started off rather arrogant, pampered and full of pride. His life became pretty messed up. Yet, in that mess he found a faith in his God that saw him through the worst of times. In the end he became a man of forgiveness and a man who learned the importance of his family, both immediate and extended. He loved the brothers who had betrayed him. He loved his father dearly. He loved his boys.
The difference was their love for God. It settled them in themselves so they could deal with the reality of their situation. This is the same thing that will give us peace in the chaos of family life. We have to expect that there will be chaotic times because it is a place of trial and error, conducted by a group of people who tend toward making mistakes and messing up. Joseph discovered the best way to handle a family of mess ups; a lot of forgiveness.
We need to face the reality of family life. It is a place of learning and training. Unfortunately the best way many of us learn is by trying, making mistakes, learning from our mistakes and trying again. This does make for a messy place. The best thing for cleaning up such messes is a lot of patience and forgiveness. The family is a place of blessings. In our working out the details of life together we end up blessing each other. If we can accept this, if we can understand the purpose of this, then we may actually learn to relax a bit and begin to enjoy the journey. If you ever visit my family you will discover a lot of mess as we live our life. But I also hope that you would discover a family that loves the Lord and thus love and forgive each other.
It is also good to note this: Family is for life so you better learn to deal with it.