Family

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So, for the past two weeks–from January 18th to February 3rd (at the time I am writing this, I am still currently on vacation, and am, in fact, writing this before I sleep and in the home of my cousin and her family). Since starting this vacation, nothing has happened as I thought it would in my head leading up to it. I thought it would be all fun. Son of a gun, God had a different plan…as He normally does when it comes to me and my life. I have gotten to know and reconnect with my cousin mainly through Facebook and we have grown close than we had been when we were younger, granted having 400+ miles of distance does prevent that happening between family members. But from the moment I stepped off the bus in Minneapolis, the servant’s heart that God placed within me has been on the go go go. Like stepping off the bus that takes USMC Recruits to Parris Island–the moment you leave it, you never switch off. I had no idea that I was going to end up ministering to my cousin and her husband in many different ways. God slammed me into a stormy situation that had yet to happen and was already starting to brew. Now, granted, my cousin and her husband could have handled everything on their own and made through it alright–when both of their kids get sick at the exact same time and have to still get everything else that has to be done accomplished while taking care of two younglings, it’s doable just extremely tough. In my mind, I committed a series of cultural faux pas’ as it were being a guest in their home. I served them immensely throughout these past several days. Now, before y’all go and just say I’m bragging on myself, I want to say that is not what I’m doing here, I had no idea this was going to happen. But through this, God has taught me tons to myself, and He slammed me into a serving opportunity that I had not had in several months that pushed me so hard. And I wanted to share the lessons

And while this was supposed to be a vacation, it ultimately wasn’t–but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have gotten to know my cousin and her family on a level I probably thought wasn’t going to be possible.

Follow my train of thought here as I have studied Scripture, seeking out what God was trying to teach me on this the past week, or reminding me of things already known, but had to be brought to the surface again…

  1. Taking Care of Family
    1. 1 Timothy 5:8
      1. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
  2. Servant Leadership
    1. John 13:1-17
      1. Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

  3. Christian Living
    1. Romans 12:1-13
      1. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

These 3 passages of Scripture arose many different times in the time I’ve spent with my family. And it’s been amazing to look back and reflect. I can’t even go into all of what I’ve learned because, as you can see from the Scripture, they ALL came into play. At the end of it all, what was supposed to be a time of fun, refreshment, and a break from life turned into a time of being busy and ministering to my family who, while it was a totally huge need, still needed help and God showed those opportunities to me where I could step in and serve them.

And through all of this, I got to know my cousin, her husband, and their children in an intimate way that truly brought us closer together. Closer, I say, than simply being cousins–I can certainly say that after all of this, I have gained another set of siblings, and by extension, a nephew and niece by adoption if I might be so bold as to say so. And I pray to God that I get to keep continue to getting to know them.

For me, family is not something that is defined and limited by labels in that community of people, especially when it comes to biblical mandate. Christ broke down barriers. There is no slave or free, Gentile or Jew–there is only Christ and His church. Christ never subscribed to labels except that which He knew he had the divine authority to apply to Himself. For me, if I am with others from the body of Christ, I only see a brother and Sister in Christ, and they are deserving of the love of Christ that fills me when they need someone to serve them.

And my cousin has been such a gracious host–dealing with my normal antics that surely drives others crazy while dealing with the craziness in her own life. She has great patience, thoughts, and understandings about a great many things, as does her husband. And it is my extreme pleasure to have them in my life and to continue to getting to know them and hopefully continue to do life with them.

And so, as I lay here at 12:22AM typing this, I pray that if they both read this, they know and understand that this vacation of mine, while it may not have turned out the way I thought it would and should–God took it and used it both to remind me what it means to follow Him, be a leader and servant for His Church, what it means to be a part of a family, and what constant Christian Living looks like. It has been a huge blessing to me and I am glad and happy all of this has taken place. And I gained a new brother and sister out of the deal 🙂

 

Good night!

~Tom

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