Looking back over the years of raising our three children, some of the memories that stand out the most in my mind are those from our time spent as a family. With the busyness of ministry life during the weekends, we never wanted our family to feel that they came second to our calling. How to keep a balance? Family night!
Every Monday, we would pick the kids up from school and go spend time with just them. Go downtown to throw rocks into the Mississippi. Roll down the hill in a trash barrel. Walk around the fountains. Feed the ducks. Have a game night. Watch a movie. Go eat pizza or burgers or tacos together.
No cell phones were in our pockets back then. And if we were home earlier than planned, no answering the phone before the kids were put to bed. It was FAMILY time! It was our way of letting them know that they mattered more than the people we ministered to. After all, they were given to us to train them in Christ every day of their lives.
Not only did we have family nights, we had devotions. Every morning we had breakfast together and shared a devotion. Every night we had supper together and family prayer after bath times. We recognized that we were given only so many years to build both a spiritual foundation as well as connect with them on a personal level. Each devo or prayer time was different. Often it took creativity to keep the attention of the young minds. And as they got older, we allowed them to use their gifts and participate in giving thanks to God for the day He had given us.
Deuteronomy 11 gives direction on teaching our family:
18 So keep these commandments carefully in mind. Tie them to your hand to remind you to obey them, and tie them to your forehead between your eyes! 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are sitting at home, when you are out walking, at bedtime, and before breakfast!
And Proverbs 22:6 gives the result:
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Our family time was training time. Time that we spent planting seeds of faith in their lives. As they grew older, they brought friends over to join our family events. Friends that often came from broken homes. Friends who for the first time heard of the love of Christ. We chose to now shy away from devos when others were there. Instead we chose to lead by example. We watch other youth grow into adults and start the same pattern in their own lives.
Whether is it our blood family or spiritual family, family time is meant to live God loud before our children. And even when if they should struggle in faith or fall away from God one day, we know the roots have been planted in their lives and will once again reap a harvest as they grow older.
Relationships. They are vital and they take time. Let's choose to let our families know how vital they are by spending time together making memories. Let's be families rooted in our faith in the love of Jesus!