It's the end of the school year. Time to wrap things up, graduate...or maybe just anticipate getting out of this year and on to the next.
But perhaps you remember the start of the semester. You walked into class and took in the drill as the teacher said, "Here's what you need to do if you want an 'A'."
Somewhere in the middle of that description, you said under-your-breath, "No way."
CAN I REALLY HAVE A STORM-STRONG FAMILY?
It could be you walked away from yesterday's (i.e., April 28th, ) teaching muttering, "No way." If so, that's not just you suggesting a settling for something less. It's your Enemy. Of course "the thief" (John 10:10a) is whispering that in your ear! He has no interest in you giving building a storm-strong family even half a chance.
But your Savior, the Lord Jesus, wants the chance to reset your compass. Listen to Him. "I came to give them life, abundant life" (John 10:10b). Give Him a chance.
THE HOUSE THE LORD CAN BUILD (Psalm 127:1)
As you know, building a house takes time. An architect is chosen. A plan is drawn. Dirt is moved. A foundation is poured and firms up. Plumbing is roughed in. Framing starts to happen - the outside shell and the load-bearing wallks. Roof struts are positioned on top...and on it goes. Step by step, in the right order. Eventually, a quality residence is prepared and outfitted to life in.
But it all begins with a clear intention to have a quality house built. What's your uncompromising intention? Is it to have a family with the humility and courage to listen to God, believe His revelation, and use His wisdom (?).
When family members think about living out this statement, it will take humility (a willingness to admit change starts with me) and courage (a readiness to risk obeying God despite the personal cost). Each member of one's family -- beginning with the parents -- must think about and pray about the Lord building this family this way.
When a family will intentionally do this, "the Lord will build their house to their joy and to His glory."
SOME SPECIFIC STARTING STEPS
1st - Have you asked Jesus Christ to forgive your sins and surrendered to Him the steering wheel of your everyday life?
It all starts here. He must be in control, not you. This will mean a surrender of your pride, your superiority over others (including your spouse, your kids). It may mean that you cease insisting on relating to others in your family in past, frustrating ways. Have you...will you surrender to His Lordship. Get off your throne. Put Him on it.
2nd -- Will you pray with your spouse (if you have one, or with a spiritual partner) and your kids simply asking the Lord Jesus to start building you into a storm-strong family?
Last Fall, we watched Like Arrows, a movie about a young family in trouble. Relationships were falling apart, flashes of anger and steps of rebellion were taking over. The house built on sand was washing away, until...until the parents realized how much they needed to be broken before God and before their kids...and took some simple steps to start over.
One night, dad and mom called a "family meeting." They began by confessing to their kids their sin, that they'd been failing as parents. Dad took a bible, and set the rudder in a different direction. Reading it. Discussing it. Praying together. The Lord began to build the house. Not all at once, but step by step.
You can do this; the Lord will help. But it takes humility, and courage, to admit brokenness, inadequacy. To bring the family together and say, "We need the Lord to build this house."
3rd - Seek help from others in the Body of Christ.
There are friends in the Body of Christ who have been down your path and can help you take these important, first simple steps. Have the humility and courage to ask for help. You will find it.
The Lord is the architect. He has the plan. You'll need to "move some dirt" so that a foundation can be poured and firmed up. Step by step, if you will start with personal humility and the courage to obey in simple things, the Lord can build your house (Psalm 127:1)
YOUR QUESTIONS (from 4/28/2019)
Even when I make "Jesus the center" (praying with kids, reading scripture, attending church, serving) there are times when raising children and having a healthy marriage still feels impossible, or like I'm failing. Any advice about that?
Of course, you're not alone in this. Every couple with kids wrestles with the routine, and the Enemy is always nearby to whisper, "Yeah, you aren't cutting it."
Still, It sounds like you're managing many things well. And yet a weariness can set in. From where I've been, perhaps the most important of all the things you are doing is prioritizing the quality of your relationship with your spouse. Marriage is truly about a couple of friends who together prize Jesus and one-another more than anything else. When spouses affirm each other, take time for each other, keep the friendship alive, you take on the challenges together as partners. Very practically, it is SO important to have fun with your partner-friend. When the kids see you delighting in each other, it goes a long way in setting the tone for a storm-strong family.
With all the quick pace and immediate gratification of social media, how do you get your children to slow down, listen to God, and just enjoy time with the family?
Quite the challenge, to be sure. Some families have had real success with these two steps. First, regular "family conferences," in which dad/mom make it a part of family life to schedule a discussion (not a lecture) on what the family together can to slow down, listen to God, and enjoy each other. The goal (again) is for you to solicit your kids' ideas, along with your own, to take small, good steps forward to let the Lord build the house and become "storm-strong."
Second, when a plan for time together emerges from such discussions and is agreed to, then follow through. To be sure, the kids will test you to see if you will follow through...and perhaps even the first few attempts maybe shaky. But like anything else, you can make these protected family-nights fun as well as value-shaping.
It will take some intentionality...but then again, anything truly worthwhile and life-shaping takes some prayerful planning and implementation. Be sure "fun" is included in what ever plans you all come up with.
How can we encourage striving for "the ideal" while recognizing God can redeem and work through broken families?
Broken families can become mended and healthy families. But the pathway is through starting with humility. "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Brokenness which leads to humility before God, and a willingness to take simple, first steps of prayerful obedience can point any family, refreshingly, in the right direction. Those who lead the family must start humbly, and with an eagerness to listen and obey the Lord's family wisdom.