When have you told your family about something you really wanted to do—but they didn’t (and/or didn’t want you to do either)? How did that work out? What might have helped them—or you—make the right decision?
Sometimes we look back at disagreements we’ve had with our families and laugh. Sometimes they’re so painful that we still don’t want to think about them. Both examples, however, show us that our families’ support for what God’s trying to do in our lives can be critical.
To put it bluntly: If we can’t even communicate to those closest to us how much God is in this vision, and how much we need their support, how can we honestly expect anyone else’s support?
Depending on our situations, we might not be able to expect our families to support or even understand what God’s calling us to. But our spouses, our children, and our extended families can still serve as a reality check. They may not see what God’s doing in our lives, but they see us. And no matter how painful or seemingly unfair their concerns might be, there might well be a grain of truth to them. Now’s the time to deal with those grains.
Sometimes we just need to help those we care about see what we’re seeing. The unknown is scary. We wouldn’t have spent the last three Wednesdays addressing that if it weren’t true. So let’s discover how we can help our families see and embrace what God’s putting on our hearts.
But first, let’s look at a biblical example of one family venture gone terribly wrong. Open that tab, read Genesis 19:1-4, 9-38, then think about this:
• What’s motivating each family member here, and what went wrong for each of them?
• Why didn’t Lot’s family just listen to him—let alone to God’s angels?
Think about your family, and the “God things” we’ve been trying to sort out together the past several Wednesdays. Now, think about sharing that “God thing” with them—or about what you’ve shared with them already. What parts of your personality or behavior might cause family members to respond “Yeah, right” to what you’re sharing? Do they have a point? If so, why?
Let’s look now at a very different example—one which, in fact, involved Lot’s extended family. It’s in Genesis 22:1-18.
• What do you think is going through Abraham and Isaac’s heads here?
• Most of us don’t have family members as compliant as Isaac, even when they love and want to support us. How can we help them deal with the fears and hesitancy they still might have?
• Which of the two situations we’ve looked at seems most like yours? Why?
• What do you think you and your family are going to need to sacrifice as you follow God’s vision? How easy or difficult will it be for all of you to believe that God will provide what’s needed for your sacrifice?
We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” But this ain’t just about Momma (or wives). It could be our husbands, children, parents, or anyone else we’re close to. This is an issue that literally hits close to home. In a sense, you’re asking your family to show even bigger faith than you have—because they’re not only needing to trust God; they also need to trust you.
And this can get complicated in a hurry. We want to please God. And we want our families to be happy. Even the Bible can give us some seemingly conflicting messages about this. Let’s look at some of those messages, and try to make some sense of them.
• Matthew 12:46-50
• Luke 14:25-33
• 1 Corinthians 7:29-35
• Ephesians 5:28–6:4
• How do we reconcile these passages? How can we follow Jesus and honor our families?
• What does that look like to you right now? What specific actions will you need to take to make it happen?
Got your keys handy? Go get them. Hold up the key you consider to be your most important one.
Keys do a lot of things. They open things; they lock things away and protect them; they turn things on and off. I’d like you to think about the key you’re holding, and what God’s asking you to do in relation to your family? Do you need to open up and share more of what’s really on your heart? Protect what God’s showing you from the criticism of an unbelieving family? Or just get in the car and take a long drive with your spouse or child who’s afraid of losing your time and attention?
Whatever comes to mind, hold up your key and pray silently about it for a minute. Ask God to help you be obedient to Him in every part of your life. Ask Him to help your family to understand and support what He’s showing you, and to help you see our yown blind spots. Ask Him to help you do everything in your power to love your family and to keep seeking God’s will no matter what the reactions might be, and to have the patience to wait for your family, if that’s what’s needed—and that they’d have patience with you, if that’s what’s needed.
May you all keep following God’s lead no matter what fears or misunderstandings there might be in the meantime.