Family… What comes to mind when you think of family?? For me, I think of my family reunions, where we had so much amazing southern food and so much love and community. Even if there were people I hadn’t seen in years, you couldn’t tell when our family got together. This past weekend, I got a major lesson in the importance of family. It was my grandmother’s 91st birthday, and she lives in North Carolina. My dad, mom, and I drove up to North Carolina to visit her. On one hand, I was excited to go see her because I haven’t seen her in close to a year. On the other hand, I didn’t want to go (if I can be real for a moment) because I had my own agenda to hang with my friends and go to church on Sunday, which is my normal way of life.
While we were visiting her, I got to see uncles I haven’t seen in a while, and cousins as well. I had a heart felt moment when I walked in to see my grandmother, and she looked at me and said, “James is that you?” This wrecked me inside. One reason is because James is my late grandfather who passed a few years ago. I was very close to him while he was alive, because he made such an impact on my life that I try to live out to this day. The other reason is because she was saying that I resembled him. That is such an honor for me because I desire to be like him. As time passed, I began to distance myself from my family, one reason because I was getting hangry (I hadn’t eaten since 9:30 that morning) and two because I got so wrapped up in my agenda, that I didn’t realize the impact my presence was having on my family.
On the car ride back home, my dad talked to me about how my presence is a blessing to my family, and how important it is to be present, not just when they are elderly and need more care and attention, but even when they are more mobile. It convicted me in such a major way because I feel like we all deal with this in our walks with Christ. We get so enamored with our own desires and our own agendas, that we fail to see how important our presence is in someone else’s life. Sometimes people don’t desire our money, but they are needing our time and undivided attention. I am so guilty of not being fully engaged when someone is talking to me. I think we are the same with Jesus. He is so passionately desiring us to be present with Him, but we are too “busy” to spend time with Him. He is our Heavenly Father awaiting to dine with us, that we may seek His heart for us. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us.” This is so poignant because we can relate it to real life. Let us get rid of distractions that we may be fully present with our family. It is so true that people watch how we act. People see if we really act out what we believe in. If we are to be salt and light to the world, it starts with our families.
I challenge all of us this week to spend some uninterrupted time with family. If you can’t go see them, call them on the phone. Learn what they love to do and what they love to eat. Let them know that you are there for them and that you love them. I bet that doing this will bring so much joy and encouragement to their lives, and it will come right back to you. The Bible talks a lot about reaping what we sow. We don’t, however do things just for a reward, but we do things that other people may see Jesus through our lives. So let us be a blessing to our families, and let us live out this wonderful gospel.