Summary: The family is a place where we learn about: 1. Healing. 2. Worth. 3. Service.
Diane Kesecker tells a story about an event that took place around the dinner table in their home one evening: “We were trying to stretch our budget while my husband, Kent, and I were in Bible school. One night, Kent was in charge of dinner and served ‘shepherd’s pie’ — much to the dismay of our seven-year-old, Stephanie. I tried to persuade Stephanie to eat. ‘Let’s pretend we’re missionaries and someone invited us to their home for dinner. We must eat whatever they give to us, so we don’t offend them.’ Stephanie wasn’t convinced. She looked at her plate, then at us, and said, ‘Then let’s pretend I ate it ’”
Every family has its high points and its low points, but today I want to lift up a vision of what a family can become — in spite of its occasional failures. I believe that God had a purpose and a plan for families. Families are important to him. They are a part of his design for the world. Chuck Swindoll says, “A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.” In other words, It is the place where character is taught and caught. It is where we learn that we are loved and cared for. It is where we learn that we have worth and have something to contribute. It should be where we learn that we can be forgiven when we have failed. It is where parents model for their children what God is like and how he relates to us. It is where children learn obedience so that they will understand what it means to obey God. Home is where we learn who God is and learn to love him. Home is where we learn who we are and who others are. We learn to live with other people and take them into consideration. We learn to live unselfishly. All of this is God’s intent and design.
When the home is accomplishing these things the whole nation becomes strong and cohesive. Where the home breaks down, the nation breaks down. All other institutions rise and fall on the success of the home. Chuck Colson puts it in these strong words: “Ordained by God as the basic unit of human organization, the family is. . . the first school of human instruction. Parents take small, self-centered monsters, who spend much of their time screaming defiantly and hurling peas on the carpet, and teach them to share, to wait their turn, to respect others’ property. These lessons translate into respect for others, self-restraint, obedience to law — in short, into the virtues of individual character that are vital to a society’s survival.”
The home was meant to be a redemptive force in our lives. The first redemptive element of the family is that: The family is where we learn about healing. When we have been wounded by the world, the home should be a place of retreat. When we have been beat up by the world, the home should be a place where we are built up. Adults and children alike need someone who will believe in them when no one else does. They don’t need to be called names at home after they have been called names outside the home. They don’t need to be yelled at after being yelled at in school or work. When we have been wounded by the world, home is where our wounds are mended and our hurts are healed. We need to learn how to restore each other and restore our relationships.
Franklin Graham is the son of the world famous evangelist Billy Graham. It was not easy being Billy’s son. When he was born on July 14, 1952, the fourth of five children, the letters poured in predicting that he would be everything from a famous preacher to the pope. At an early age he learned that everyone expected him to fill his father’s shoes. But Franklin had no aspirations of being like his father. Some said he was a difficult child growing up, but his mother said he was just a normal boy — “Just as good as he could be, and just as bad as he could get by with.” But his rebellious spirit grew, and he began drinking heavily. He loved motorcycles and began traveling the world. He writes openly about his rebellion in his book Rebel with a Cause. At age 22 he was in Jerusalem, staying in a hotel when the Spirit of God began to break in upon his life. He realized that just being the son of Billy Graham was not going to get him into heaven. That night he committed his life to Christ. His ministry is totally different from his father’s. He is president of Samaritan’s Purse, a world relief organization which sponsors the Christmas boxes we are filling. He says, “I’ve been called to the slums of the streets and the ditches of the world.” There has been a complete turnaround in his life, and it is due to a family. They continued to believe in him and pray for him. It was the redemptive influence in his life. It brought forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Without their continued love, in spite of their disappointment over the choices he was making, he would have been the prodigal who never came home.