We Are Family

07/14/2007

We went to a large family wedding last night on 7-7-07! The most popular wedding date of the year! What a blast it was! All the planning, all the preparation, all the money spent, made this celebration all that the bride and groom desired for it to be. It was funny as the dad and mom of the bride entered the reception, the song was played, “Hey, Big Spender!!” That got a good laugh! You don’t have a wedding on the first tee of a golf course, and then provide a sit-down dinner for 250 guests, without spending the big bucks! Every detail was perfect, and I wanted to take the time to notice all of them, knowing my aunt and uncle and how much time and effort had been put into this affair. It was one to remember.

But, what will I remember most from this night? I will remember the joy there was in being with family…not a perfect family, not a family that hasn’t gone through hardships and had much heartache, but a family that has endured because of God’s love in our lives. And, in the mix of all this, the one who I will remember the most from this evening was not the bride and groom, not the aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters, but a cousin…a cousin who I never knew well through the years, but who I know will be one who I will never feel “far” from ever again. Why? Because of Jesus Christ!

Upon arriving at this gala event, we met family in the parking lot before entering in. A woman got out of the car my parents were in, and I wasn’t sure who she was. I waved, thinking it was someone else I knew, but as she walked towards me, I realized she was a cousin I had not seen since 1984. That was the year my grandma died and we gathered for her memorial service.

Growing up, I was close with some of my cousins, but not this one. She rarely attended family functions with her mom and dad, and so we grew up strangers, really. When I saw her in 1984, she had the look of someone who was living a hard life, a life that was sucking her dry, and yet, she was still so young. The woman I met last night, was someone else entirely…the reason I didn’t recognize her immediately was because her appearance was not at all what I would have expected 23 years later…she looked soft, and pretty, and smiled easily. There was a warmth and a sweetness in her, and I thought to myself, she is beautiful!

In reading Luke this morning, chapter 8, verses 19-21, I read about the “True Family of Jesus,” as it is entitled in my Bible. It is the story of when Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see Him, and they couldn’t get to Him because of the crowds. “Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to see you.’ And Jesus replied ‘My mother and my brothers are all those who hear the message of God and obey it.’”

I had family at this wedding, obviously, but who was my family, really? Are we more connected because of the blood that flows through our veins, or are we more connected because of the blood that flowed from Jesus on the Cross? I believe it’s the blood of Jesus that unites us as family…He is the One who makes us feel connected, alive and excited to be together! When this connection is missing, there may be difficulties.

When we are falling in love with Someone, and that Someone cannot be shared with those in our natural family, there becomes a missing link in those relationships. We can’t talk about what’s most important because there is no interest there… It is sad, but it is true, and it can also be a motivating factor in sharing the Good News with those who are the most difficult to share it with sometimes, our families.

Can you imagine going to a wedding, as we did last night, and talking with the bride but not being willing to talk with her about the groom? Not being able to converse about how they met, what he is like, where she sees them going together in their future? Can you imagine walking up to the bride and congratulating her, but putting up a hand to her face when she wants to tell you about how much she loves this person she will be spending the rest of her life with? Wouldn’t this put up a wall between you, even as family? How could it not?

Jesus is family! He is our Brother! He is the Love of our life, when we know Him as our Savior. He is our Everything! He is what we live for! He is Who we are excited about! He is our Future! When we met Him, we fell in love with Him, and we committed ourselves to Him forever!

Now, can we talk?

Perhaps not.
Perhaps it is not welcomed by those we originally called family?
Perhaps it never will be, but then, whom are we drawn to?
It’s those who know God as we do, and who love Him in the same way.
It’s those who hear His message and obey it!

I have to say though; God has blessed many in our family with a love for Jesus! As we sat around the table, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, grown children, we shared a common bond not only as a natural family, but also as a supernatural family of God’s children. We joined hands, and we prayed over our meal together, focusing our attention on the One who we call our Groom.

“The bride will go where the bridegroom is.
A bridegroom’s friend rejoices with him.
I am the bridegroom’s friend, and I am filled
with joy at his success. He must become greater
and greater, and I must become less and less.”
John 3:29-30(NLT)

As the years have gone on, those in our natural family who know the Lord, have met Him in different ways, at different times, through different needs. That is the way God works. Each walk with Him is unique and special. So, I asked my cousin how she met God, and this is what she told me:

“I was watching Oprah one day, and while watching her, there was a woman on there who was Jewish. She was talking about a book of prayers, and I thought maybe I should get the book, so I did. Along with that and some information that the Jehovah Witnesses had given me, I searched for God, but I knew I wanted Christianity. My ex-husband is Mormon, but I knew I didn’t want that…”

There was more she told me, and as we talked along, wondering together why some find their way to God and others don’t, i.e.: in our family, she said, “I believe someone was praying for me!” And then I looked around the table at the family that was sitting there, and I told her that I believe my grandma was praying for me, and for all my siblings through the years. And then I looked at her, and I said, “Do you remember my grandma?” (On my dad’s side) And she told me who she thought that might be, and it might have been that she remembered her, but then I said, “I know my grandma knew you, and I think she was praying for you too!”

Wow! Are prayers really so powerful that they reach down through the generations long after a person is gone from this earth? I believe I see that happening in our family…prayers that were prayed when we were young children have been answered now that we are all in our 40’s and 50’s. In our world, that’s a long time to wait to see the answers, but in God’s world, that is but a blink of an eye.

“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the
Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. So don’t
be surprised at my statement that you must be born again.
Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes
from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are
born of the Spirit.” John 3:6-8 (NLT)

My cousin has definitely been born again. She is not the same person I knew growing up, she is not the same person I last saw in 1984, she is a new creation of the Holy Spirit, and she will tell you that. She shared some of her testimony with me, and it strengthened my faith in a God who renews us inwardly day by day. I could see clearly by all that she was telling me that God is a God of restoration! All the things that the enemy has used in her life to destroy her, God has freed her from. Satan had a tight grip on her, and it might have seemed there was no way of escape, but God made a way for her.

She simply glowed as she told me of her great love for Jesus! She told me He is her Husband now, and until He brings a man into her life that loves God as she does, He will be her only husband. As I read the following passage in Luke this morning, I could not help but think of her.

“Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer
me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t give me a kiss of greeting, but she has
kissed my feet again and again from the time I first came in. You neglected the
courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare
perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has
shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
John 7:44-47 (NLT)

I know that if Jesus had walked into that wedding, my cousin would have been one of the very first at His feet, bowing and thanking Him for all He has done to restore her life. She is a living, walking, talking example of this passage of Scripture…this story has not died somewhere in the past, it is not old news--it is as alive and as new and as fresh as it was the day Jesus spoke these words to Simon the Pharisee.

We may think God is so far out of our reach that we can never get to Him. We may think He is removed from our daily lives, not interested in the details of all that we are going through, but all we have to do is be willing to listen to a bride tell us about the Groom, and we will meet our Savior face-to-face in extraordinary ways still today. And we will find out who our family really is on this earth…it’s not always those we grew up with, those we lived in the same house with or shared holiday meals with. It’s not always those we call mom and dad, brother or sister, child or even friend…it’s those who have the same Father in Heaven, and who have the blood of Jesus flowing in their veins!

For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son,
so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:29 (NLT)

As I sat talking with my cousin, many of my other family members were out on the dance floor. And then I heard it, the song “We Are Family,” and I heard my sister call out to me and beckon me to the floor….this was our song! This is something we danced to as a family, long before we were also a part of the family of God. I jumped from my seat to get to the dance floor, wanting to be there with not only my brothers and sisters, but also my brothers and sisters in Christ now. As I left my cousin sitting there, I didn’t think she would join us…she had never been a part of this “ritual” before, and I knew she wasn’t much into dancing… We started to form a line, making a train of family members with the bride in the lead, and I placed my hands on my oldest brother’s shoulders as we went…it wasn’t long before I noticed who had also joined this train of family members…it was my cousin! I have to believe when she heard this song, and saw the celebration; she knew that she was welcome! We are family, not only relatives on earth, but also in Heaven…it was time that she joined us! What a joy it was to see her there!

Why have some in our earthly family joined the family of God, and others have not? Why have some refused to jump from their seats and get in line, dancing and celebrating the new family we belong to, like King David did when He danced before His Lord?

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might…
2 Samuel 6:14 (NIV)

David knew where he belonged, he knew who his family was, and that gave him a reason to celebrate, as it should for all of us who know our Lord!

I said to my cousin, as we sat looking out at the dance floor, “This is all great and fun, but it doesn’t compare to God!” She heartily agreed! And she said that she never expected that she would be having these conversations at the wedding, not only with me, but others in the family who know Jesus as their Lord--but isn’t that so like God? We show up, and He does the rest! He brings the joy into our lives, sometimes when we least expect it! Last night we got to know our cousin as we never have before, and she got to know us, and it was good!

This Good News was promised long ago by God
through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. It is
the Good News about his Son, Jesus, who came
as a man, born into King David’s royal family line.
(Romans 1:2-3NLT)

We never have to feel alone when we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord. Even if everyone in our natural family has deserted us--or we never had the opportunity to know them in the first place--we can rest assured that there are many supernatural family members out there who will welcome us because we’ve been born again into King David’s royal family line!

Notice the way God does things; then fall into line.
Don’t fight the ways of God…
Ecclesiastes 7:13 (NLT)

Let’s dance!!

Diane