A few weeks ago Melissa and I ministered at a church with some friends. During worship, and even some time before, we felt strongly that the Lord wanted to help marriages and families. I love the way that God speaks through His people. Every person on our team sensed the same direction and spoke on different aspects: kids, marriage, family, fathers, mothers, the fatherless and the widowed. It was as though a single message came out of a group of people singing in harmony – one heart, one mind, and one spirit. Family isn’t just an important thing, it is everything.
When you’re together in a car as a family, you better learn to enjoy each other, or ride on the roof. Over the past three months our family has driven over 8800 miles through 19 states. Considering that we spent over 128 hours in the car as a family, it’s no wonder we get along so well! It is work, and we do need attitude corrections along the way. But our journeys knit us together through every adventure and new experience – and with lots of time behind the wheel has helped me recall memories from my own childhood.
I never understood the personality of God until I became a parent. I used to think pleasing God was difficult, like an ever increasing list of requirements stacked next to my failures, all presided over by a scolding, cranky old judge. I would never add up, try as I might, because I just didn’t have what it took to be his star pupil. This would not have felt so hard to bear if I had been a star somewhere else, successful or significant on another plain, but it felt soul crushing to my hungry heart.
And then I had children. My heart filled up like a rain barrel in a monsoon. My love was sudden, torrential, uncontainable. I was swept downriver and my view of God flipped end over end. Suddenly I knew, this is how he had always loved me- without reason, without limits or end. It was there all along! My eyes hungrily drank in the proof all around me. His generosity to me, his daughter, could never be tapped out.
If you have been in church for any length of time, you probably have heard a sermon on the “mustard seed” Kingdom of God. Found in three of the four gospels, the scripture is typically used to make the point that the Kingdom of God comes as a tiny mustard seed, and we will not see the fullness until Jesus returns. There is some element of truth to that, as Jesus triumphant return to this earth will bring a finality and totality to the increasing Kingdom. But that’s not really the point.
Snap, crackle, pop – a satisfying sound when for cereal – but dreadful to hear coming from your spine. I couldn’t so much as sneeze without screaming in agony. I managed to crawl to our family doctor, who created an emergency treatment plan that spanned months. In the space of 24 hours, absolutely everything I was doing was put on hold. I had a very busy calendar, a life that looked full, but a body that was out of commission.