As the Sun sets over the Gulf, I am sitting up in bed in the house on the beach we’ve rented this year for our family vacation. There are 29 of us this year, and so there are two houses. We have multiplied, of course, in the 30 plus years that my sister and I have been coming here, initially with our parents and then with our growing families. It’s something we look forward to and plan for months in advance, and by the time we leave at the end of the week, we will have scheduled the houses and the dates for next year. To say that it’s a family tradition is putting it mildly. This matters.
And precisely because these are uncertain times, the certainty of family traditions brings a sense of stability. It’s not that we need to know that things won’t change. We are all very aware that nothing is so certain in this life as change. But the gratitude we feel because God continues to allow us this time together is profound. We are a microcosm of His glorious church, and we rejoice in every gathering that gives us opportunity to love each other and to love Him together.
We are blessed beyond measure and we receive His blessing unconditionally. Without the need to reciprocate, we are consumed with desire to reciprocate, and that opens us up to proclaim the love of God to each other and to join in worship of Him who gave His life for us and called us into His marvelous light.
If all this sounds super spiritual to you, or if it makes you think we are so heavenly minded we can be no earthly good, then let me say only this: when a family our size with four generations of people in various stages and styles of life can be together and love each other and each other’s children and grandchildren with genuine care, concern and delight, without drama or discord (or even in the midst of it) for seven days of minutes and hours, it must certainly proclaim the greatness of God.
Any community of people who learn, through suffering, the obedience of Christ is beautifully situated to be a beacon of light to the world around it. When we are unashamed of the glories of love, there is no one we cannot embrace in His name. When we are easily humbled and quick to repent, there is no thing we cannot overcome in the victory of Christ.
In the early days of Christ’s church they were daily in each other’s homes breaking bread together with gladness and simplicity of heart, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47) The best and clearest communication of the gospel is that we love one another. Jesus said to His disciples, in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
When I am with my large, boisterous, delightfully rambunctious family, I am moved to worship, simply because I know that this kind of larger-than-life living is not possible without the love God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)
If there is kindness and generosity in your relationships, worship the Lord. If there is mercy and compassion, worship the Lord. If there is peace and justice, worship the Lord. How great is our God!
Until next week, fellow disciple, be known by the love of God both for you and through you.