Most of the blog posts here have been about recipes and food and family events. Today, my husband Darren shares his thoughts.
About 5 years ago, I was hit with the reality that I had only 8 summers left before Kathryn and and Landry enroll in college. We were not so good about taking family vacations at the time; as our vacations were really more of extended weekends. The thought of the ticking clock was enough for Kim and me to get busy planning meaningful summer-time family vacations. Since then, we have developed cherished memories and traditions. I believe the family trips have proven essential to our growing together and strengthening our family bond.
Then last year, as a family we decided to focus on the concepts of “compassion and generosity” for the year. Really, we were starting to become aware that our lives needed to be lived for greater purposes than ourselves. We started our journey to actively support two organizations: Mercy House Global and The Seed Company. Pursuing these charities as a family has been transformational for us. In the case of Mercy House Global, I believe our involvement has been life-changing for us. (You can read more about our trip to Kenya in previous posts.)
This year, we are focusing on being bold in sharing the Gospel. I realize this can take on a traditional meaning in many circles so we have been putting it to prayer. And, ironically, as I pray about this focus for my family, for the first three months of this year, I find myself more and more burdened for my home.
Why is this? I was fully prepared (and still am) to take our family on another vacation that is filled with service and giving more than fun-filled activities. I was fully expecting (and still am) to be hit with a line of people asking me why I believe what I believe. I was cringing yet ready (and still am) for my kids to come home from school with questions and hurts from challenges of living out their faith. Yet, the more I pursue these outward expressions, the more I am pushed inward to evaluate my home. After all, isn’t my home, my family suppose to be a reflection of me? And, aren’t I suppose to be a reflection of Christ. It all sounds so good. Yet, while I was mentally and possibly emotionally ready for more outward expression, God is softly and quietly reminding me that my inward spiritual state is hollow.
I admittedly am not a perfect or even a model husband and father. I don’t say that in a false pity kind of way. I mean it as it is…I have made mistakes in both areas. “Mistakes”, as I have come to realize, is just a nice word to use for sin. What sin? The sin of wanting more; wanting something different. The sin of trying to satisfy me. The sin of letting my heart wander to people and things outside my family relationships unproductively and inappropriately. The sin of never being satisfied with what and who I have been given. All which leads to the reality of the sin of not being satisfied with Who the Giver is – God Himself.
As I try to lead my family to live out what we have chosen as purpose this year – to be bold in living and sharing the gospel, I have been hit head on with the real challenge – am I satisfied with God. If I am not, then how can I share Him? And, that leads me to the picture I included in this blog post. As a husband and father I am determined to let God “be my portion”. After 36 years of “being a Christian”, 20 years of marriage and 16 years of parenting, I am just now learning what it means for my satisfaction (my portion) to be found in God through my family.
When I look at Kim, Kathryn, Landry and Jonah, I want to see the physical representation of God’s all-satisfying portion for me.
Now I can see over the past 5 years or so that my heart was wandering. It was seeking and searching and hoping and in most cases I was too numb to realize it. In some instances, it was actively seeking God. In other instances, it was enticed by the promises (empty) and pursuits (emptier) of our culture. In all cases, I morphed into a man of our day – aspired for career success, wanting to be served and thirsty for approval. It does not cease to amaze me how one like me can think I am pursuing God when I am actually pursuing material things; how foolish we can be.
So as I lead my family this year to be bold in living and sharing the gospel, I am first looking inward. After all, isn’t our inward motivation the boldest area to address? My first bold step is to set in motion a lifetime of habits to love my wife and raise (teach and instruct) my children both in the same way as Christ loves us. Yes, I will continue to pursue success in my career, network new connections, mentor and care for others, be active in my community and even buy a few nice things. However, all of that, I have learned, must be founded on the practice of leading with servanthood at home; again, as Christ would.
And that starts with the admission of guilt that my appetites have hungered and are tempted for things outside of God’s portion for me, and a rejoicing in the grace I am given to find satisfaction in what God has entrusted me – my marriage, my children, my home. May my family be people and our home be a place where our satisfactions are met in the promises, grace and fullness of God.
Psalm 73 (the entire psalm) is one of our scripture focuses this year. Here are verses 23 – 28 in the ESV. I trust that God’s word is sufficient and inspiring to you:
“23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength[b] of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you 28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”