Summary: Today, Learn how God can use our families to help shape us into the people He desires us to become.
Nancy Ortberg tells about an incident with which we can all relate. “I had been, what I thought, was a good mom for the day. I rode bikes, read stories and fixed meals. I patted myself on the back and thought, Okay, I’m done. It’s six o’clock. It’s my time. Just then this little voice from the basement called out, ‘Mom.’ I did what most moms would do. I ignored it three or four times hoping he would forget it. But he was persistent. I finally said, ‘What?’ knowing I wasn’t going to move. ‘Come down in the basement. I want to show you something.’ ‘Oh, Honey, I don’t want to come down; you bring it up here.’ ‘I can’t bring it up.’ ‘Sure you can.’ ‘I can’t Mom, it’s too heavy.’
‘Johnny, I really don’t want to come down stairs right now. I’ll see it later.’ ‘I need you to see it right now.’ By this time,” she said, “the anger started and I went to the top of the stairs. ‘Johnny, I do not want to come down stairs. I will do it later.’ ‘I really want you to see it now, Mom.’ I stormed down the stairs and said, ‘What do you want? I am busy. His little face turned around and he had big tears in his eyes. Behind him was a screen of our old computer, and in huge block letters it said, ‘I love Mom.’ I had a chance to connect with my child, and I blew it. I inflicted pain instead.”
Experiences such as that, which, as parents, we have all had, poignantly drive home the truth of our morning text. In Romans 7:15 the apostle Paul says, “I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT I DO.FOR WHAT I WANT TO DO I DO NOT DO, BUT WHAT I HATE I DO.” No where does this happen more easily and more frequently than in the home. The challenges and stress of family life bring to light the struggles we have with our sinful nature and sinful ways. Our two natures are in constant conflict and nowhere is it more evident than in the home. The home is the place where interests and desires often collide. Nothing tests us quite like the give and take of family life. It seems that in the home it is much easier to say and do whatever we like even if it hurts others. It is the one place where we feel most free to be ourselves. Family life is, therefore, marked by ups and downs, good times and bad times.
This was even the case in the family of Jesus. Luke tells us about a visit to the temple that was made by Joseph, Mary and Jesus. As a religious Jewish family, Mary and Joseph went to the holy city to observe the religious festivals. Jesus went along with them.
When the festivals ended they returned home but, Scripture states, “JESUS TARRIED BEHIND IN JERUSALEM.”(Luke 2:46-50)
“To a modern mother it is surprising that they were unaware that Jesus was missing on the return trip. But traveling in a large group, they didn’t miss Him until they were a day into their journey. They began looking for Him among friends and relatives in the caravan.”
How do you think Mary and Joseph reacted when they finally found Jesus? It is, indeed, comforting to know that even Jesus’ parents got upset and were perplexed.
Scripture says they were ‘confounded.’ Imagine how any parents would react to a missing child who was finally found and who, in their eyes, had been insensitive to their feelings. No doubt they experienced a whole range of emotions from joy to relief to anger to fear, frustration and confusion.“Mary is the mother of a very perplexing son and Scripture tells us that she rebuked Him for what she considered His insensitivity.” (87/B.L.)
The problem arose because Jesus, as He said, had to “BE ABOUT HIS FATHER’S BUSINESS” and Mary did not understand. If the inability to understand a child could create a difficulty in Jesus’ family it certainly can in our families. Family life is not without many trying and difficult times and that is why it is God’s workshop, a special place where He seeks to work in our lives, changing us for the better.
God uses our normal, fallible, human families to shape us and mold us. He seeks to use the tensions, upsets and conflicts of the family to produce within us the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, gentleness, goodness, peace, patience, kindness and self-control. He desires to use our experiences in the home to develop our character. He yearns to use our interactions with our spouses and children to make us more like Christ. As Romans 8:29 makes very clear, Christ-likeness is God’s number one desire for us. This text declares that He desires that we “BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON.” God wants us to exhibit Christ-like characteristics. The family and home represent a special place where God can work on us and bring about Christ-likeness. He yearns to use our families to make us what 2 Corinthians 5:17 calls, “NEW CREATIONS IN CHRIST “