When it comes to summertime, my husband kind of makes out like a bandit. To begin with, there’s Fathers’ Day in June, followed by his birthday in July, and (dare he forget) our anniversary in August. So he can just stay in celebration mode all summer long, and keep Amazon pulled up on the computer 24/7 as the gifts roll in.
Now, lest I make Bob sound like E. Scrooge sitting at his table fingering his coins, nothing could be further from the truth. But even with his generous spirit, I’m the one doing most of the Amazon gift giving, for my husband’s special moments, as well as for other family members.
C’mon, ladies, you know how we do. Check the list, buy the gift, wrap it, put Dad’s name on it, take it to the post, whatever. No biggie. Just gotta remember to tell him what “he” sent so when the phone call comes in…
Ah, things we do for family!
Peter said, ‘We’ve left our homes to follow you.’
‘Yes,’ Jesus replied, ‘and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.’”
I’ve always looked at this severe passage as enduring persecution or even excommunication from family due to one’s commitment to the Christian faith. Certainly that is true, and many have and do encounter such difficulty.
Now I’m beginning to see another faucet of Christ’s comment, one that calls to things so deeply embedded within us that many times we are ourselves blind to them, having lived with them for so long and accepted them as normalcy, as correct, as truth. And yet,…are they?
One of my daughters and I had an emotional knock-down-drag-out when she was a teenager. (Only one, you ask?) At the end, as we both dried our tears, my soliloquy went something like this:
“Honey, I am truly sorry for the damage your father and I have done to you in your life; oh yes, despite our best efforts at parenting, we have also caused you damage. And as unfair as this is, it is damage that you alone will be responsible for repairing as you mature.
Now, you know how wonderful your grandparents are? Well, believe it or not, they also caused imperfections in my life and in your father’s life, simply because they are not perfect human beings either, and there’s ‘damage control’ that Dad and I have been responsible for dealing with in our own lives.
And their parents before them? Same thing. And before them. And on down the line.
Guess what—if you’re so blessed as to someday have children of your own…”
Breaking with family doesn’t necessarily mean physically leaving; in this passage Jesus may also be requiring us to recognize and abandon patterns of thinking/responding/feeling that were never true—ever. OR maybe some things that were beneficial at one point for some reason, but that reason has L-O-N-G since past. Hear what He says again, that we give these up “for the sake of the Kingdom”.
Wow. Now there’s perspective.
So my mental and emotional discipline matter to Jesus, to the efficient working of His Kingdom on Earth. No wonder we are called to “love God with all of our minds”, and—
“…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
I posit that only when we think God’s way about our family, only then are we truly freed to love them as they need to be loved, indeed, as God calls us to love them. That is an important part of what Peter calls ‘leaving our homes’, our past homes, our past experiences and memories and heartaches and all the things we didn’t understand about the adults in our lives that (did/didn’t) ___________.
Interestingly, I mentioned this idea to my pastor and he commented that this is also along God’s thought of ‘leaving and cleaving’, even beyond the idea of marriage:
“As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”
Which is a gift that’s got my name on it, hand picked from my Abba Father!
Luke 18:27-30; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:31, 32 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.