Who’s In Your Family?

Who is in your family tree and where are you going?

Lineage. Family history is fascinating…sometimes inspiring, sometimes shocking and maybe even a little scary. I recently had the chance to look through a book that compiled a portion of my family history.

“Dad, did you see the part about the 1930 census? Did all of Grandpa’s family really live in that little house, plus a boarder, too?” My Dad confirmed what seemed incredulous to me – all those people had lived in that tiny two bedroom house with one bathroom in the basement; the house that I always knew as “Nana’s house”!

I tried to imagine my great-grandfather boarding a boat in Italy headed to a land he must have felt held tremendous opportunity.  He must have felt a better life waited across that vast body of water; why else would an 18 year old young man leave behind his wife and two sons? 

Family history is interesting and I realize that one of my relatives put a lot of time and effort to put together this book that gave me a glimpse into the people and circumstances that led me to be me.  I think lots of people are curious about who belongs to them and where they came from.  But is where I came from more important than where I am going? And is my lineage limited to the blood and DNA that has been passed down to me from my ancestors?

There is another family history book that is far more interesting than the one that includes some Italian names that are difficult to pronounce. This book is also filled with lineage, is very interesting, sometimes shocking, sometimes a little scary, and includes more than a few difficult names to pronounce!

It is a compilation of human history and it includes an invitation to all of us to belong to another family ~ the book is the Bible and the family is God’s.  I love reading the Bible because God reveals to me how little has changed in the history of families.  I don’t know about you, but there were and are a lot of broken people in my family chain, and when I am added to the chain, people will look back and see that there were some cracks in my link as well.

The Bible is filled with broken people, less than perfect families, who are in need of healing, just like us. But God doesn’t leave them, or us, in brokenness. He offers us healing by inviting us to be a part of His family through faith in Jesus.  Now, when I think of my family, I also think of all my brothers and sisters who share my faith and are part of God’s family.  It is a connection and bond that I have found surpasses ethnicity and culture and it gives me a glimpse into what I believe heaven will be like. And I think looking forward to heaven is far more interesting than looking back. One day, whether we like it or not, we are all going to embark on a new journey across a vast expanse.  Have you thought about your journey and where you are going?

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Jesus

If you haven’t considered being a part of God’s family, I pray you will consider it today. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14

Eternal Equipment

Do You Have An Equipment Bag?

Equipment. The marine layer is thick in Marin County at 8am. The air is crisp and I am glad I brought a sweatshirt.

“Not a very good looking field,” my son said as we made our way over to the registration table. Even though I have been to more baseball fields than I can remember, I have never become an aficianado of field quality, so I try to make an intelligent observation by offering up something about the height of the grass and better to catch the ball than to let it get lost in that mess of green they call a field. I must have made some sense because my son chuckled and we continued on.

It is another leg on his baseball journey, another tryout, and I sit in the stands praying for God’s guidance in my son’s life. I watch as baseball players in all shapes and sizes, in all manner of baseball dress, start getting out their gear. As my son had pulled his worn bag out of the trunk I made the usual motherly query, “Don’t you have a bag that isn’t ripped?” But then I notice that his equipment is in varying states of condition from new bats to pants with worn out knees. As I watch the other players on the field I notice how the routine, the stretching, the equipment is all second nature to these young men. Years of being part of a baseball community, years of throwing a little white ball around a field, years of opening and closing a bag full of useful equipment culminate in days like today.

Mom Equipment

It made me wonder ~ was I ever part of a community where I had gear and special equipment? It occurred to me that at one time I had. I had a diaper bag.  And it was filled with the typical Mom equipment: snacks, baby wipes, diapers, pacifiers, a change of clothes. When my posse, my team, got together, we all pulled our worn out bags from our rides and opened them with the same familiarity as a baseball player.

But that was years ago ~ what equipment bag do I have today? Someone from my past recently reconnected with me. Their childhood was a collection of hurts that resulted in some bad choices as an adult. They shared how these bad choices had hurt themselves and others. I thought about my pastor who has said many times ~ hurt people, hurt people. Contrary to what I thought was possible, this person made their way to church and is getting to know Jesus.

“I heard the pastor say that Jesus can forgive my sins, but I have done some pretty bad stuff. I’m not sure I believe He could really do that. I’m not sure I can forgive myself.” I could hear the confusion in their voice.

I am not a pastor, not a Bible scholar, not a counselor. Am I really prepared to be there for this person in a meaningful way? Yes, I am. I do have equipment. I do have a community. I pull out my worn Bible from my equipment bag.

“Oh, but God can forgive you and He will help you to forgive yourself. Do you have a Bible? You might want to start with the gospel of John.”

Eternal Equipment

The road ahead will be challenging for my friend as they take baby steps with their faith. I am sure I will be pulling out some timely verses from God’s love letter to us to encourage them on the path. I have already reached out to my community and asked them to pull out their equipment bags to lift up this struggling new believer in prayer.

The sun eventually burned off the marine layer and now warms the baseball players who are strewn around the field with their gear: their bats and gloves, hats and bags. The day is winding down and soon the equipment will be put away. It’s useful gear, but not all the time. It serves its purpose and then gets put away till the next practice, game or tryout. But my spiritual bag never gets put away. It is useful in every situation. I don’t just use it, it equips me. It doesn’t just serve a temporary purpose here, it serves an eternal purpose. I am so grateful to God for my equipment bag, my gear and for allowing me to be a part of His community. The best part is, you don’t need to try out to get your own equipment or be on the team ~ you just need to ask Him to join. Do you want to be part of the team?  Click here to learn how!

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:14-17

Ready for a Rescue?

Are you in need of rescue?

Rescue.  “Just push through. It will be fine,” my husband said over the phone.  “Well, it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be fine.  It feels like it’s going to stall,” I said, pushing harder on the gas pedal while my SUV bucked and bounced like a horse with a thorn under its saddle. And now I was adding spurs to an already irritated ride, but I was pushing through. I was pushing through, all right, pushing through right to the mechanic.  But my car began to stall before I got there and I began muttering some things about pushing through and everything not being fine when I spotted a tow truck.  I pulled off the road and parked right next to it.  Why would I continue to push through when there was a rescue vehicle right there waiting for me? There’s more than one way to get a car to the mechanic!

It seemed so obvious to me that this was the way to go ~ I know my limitations when it comes to cars.  Sure, I’ve been known to accurately diagnose a car problem or two in the past, like telling my daughter she probably ran out of gas when her car died in the middle of the road, or the time I told my husband about the kill switch in the trunk when he couldn’t get a car to start.  But fixing them? I don’t have the know-how or tools for that.  Like I said, I know my limitations and I also know a rescue vehicle when I see one.

It’s too bad I don’t apply the same wisdom when I am in need of a spiritual rescue.  Many times my spiritual ride gets rough and I find myself clenching the wheel.  I tell myself, just push through, it will be fine, you can do it, you don’t need to bother God with this one.  Sometimes I am even pretty good at diagnosing what is causing the rough ride ~ poor choices, a broken world, martyrdom.  How many rescue vehicles do I pass in my desire to just push through?  How many times do I drive by God, who is just waiting to take the wheel and bring me to safety? How can I be so wise when it comes to understanding my need for rescue when it comes to my car, and yet foolishly think I can rescue myself when it comes to a spiritually bumpy ride?

It’s time to pull over and pull out God’s word.  He’s the only roadside assistance you need for the really bumpy rides in life.

Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Psalm 31:2