Family is very important to God. We see this clearly in many passages of scripture including these two:
- “The Lord then said to Noah, Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.” Genesis 7:1
- “Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the
land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each
one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own
clan.” Leviticus 25:10
As we have lived In Partnership With God, we have believed we should make each move: IL to GA to AL to CT to TN to IL to TX to NY. Our three years in Illinois is the only time in the past 47 years we have lived near any family! For 3 years we had the privilege of having both of our parents, and the families of our three brothers and a sister, within 30 minutes. When we moved to Texas, gone were the gatherings of extended family for birthdays, Christmas, and New Years. Gone were the opportunities for lunch with our parents/grand parents, to have our children play in my parent’s swimming pool, to spend wonderful days at Sally Jo’s family cabin on a small lake in Wisconsin.
Once again we were…alone – a couple day’s drive from any family member. And we were there because we had no real choice. Yes, from a human perspective, we could have enjoyed staying near family and been financially comfortable with me as the CEO of a successful corporation. But we knew that if we did, we would be disobeying God. God said “go”, and so we went – just as all foreign missionaries do. It is tough! We knew God wanted us to go to Texas to build a camp/conference center – and to build a new life. But this type of obedience is painful!
In 201, the total Gieser clan will be together for several days for the third time in 10 years – now there are 53 of us. It helps that, even though we may be very different people, we all like each other. We will enjoy catching up on each other’s lives. We will play together, share many meals, have some very serious conversations, and, undoubtedly, shed tears together. Life is not easy for any of us all of the time. In the end, if history repeats itself, we will all leave with a new understanding, an increased respect, a greater love for each other.
- Remember how Abraham risked the life of his family to save the life of his brother Lot and his family.
- Remember how Paul wrote to Timothy, reminding him of the faith of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice – and that now lived in him.
- Remember how God told Jewish family clans to gather together every 50 years.
If you live near family, I encourage you to make time to share life with each other. If you do not live near all of the members of the family, do your best to visit those some distance away. It is wonderful to know that family is willing to make the effort to come for a visit, to see the context of our daily lives. As my sister-in-law said last summer: “Now I understand”.
And if you know people who do not have family in the area, be they students, particularly foreign students, or people in ministry, or new in the neighborhood or church – or for any number of other reasons – consider welcoming these people into the context of your family. Thankfully everywhere we have moved people within God’s family have done this to us.
Even with rapid communication, being alone is tough! Sharing God’s love with fellow believers who are alone is of great encouragement. Sharing God’s love with those outside of the family of God can be a life-changing experience for them, and for us.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” — I John 4:16