Reach | Devotion #4: Fam⋅i⋅ly
Holly Wells | Assistant to Lead Pastor Jim Combs
As I pondered the concept of reach, the importance of reaching family quickly came to mind. I have been struggling more in this area the last couple years than probably any other time in my life. After all, who better for God to use than my own family? Life looks very different in my family (and within their families) when compared to one another, yet in modern America, we are the average family. My parents divorced years ago, they have since remarried, and now we are a part of a large blended family. My older, biological sister is married with two amazing kiddos whom I love and adore. In total, I have six siblings and eleven nieces and nephews. We are spread out across different states, lifestyles and beliefs widely vary, as do our relationships with one another, and some of them, I have never met.
It is said that our families are the hardest to love because they are the closest to us. Simply stated, we have a history with each other. Whether we are active or absent in each other’s lives, we are tied to one another. Most remember family dynamics growing up and have weathered various seasons of life. We witness life choices and watch character, morals, values, and priorities change throughout the years. There are families that communicate too much, and there are those who will avoid it at all costs. Family can humorously tell of “that one time when” kind of story when they share the most unimaginable, embarrassing moments and yet love each other with an unmatchable closeness. It is a closeness and bond that can also cause deep hurt, resentment, and unforgiveness that can lead to division and discord.
2016 was a year that brought a lot of difficult change but yielded a ton of fruit in my life. The final change of the year was moving from California to Michigan out of obedience to the Lord with giant steps of faith. Though the details are for another time, my immediate family struggled with my decision. In fact, only one family member saw God at work and fully trusted His leading along with me. While this blessed my heart, overall it was quite difficult to navigate with my family, and although it has been over a year in Michigan, I am still trying to figure out how to mend some of these relationships. I have wrestled with my hurt, the “what if” scenarios, the “how come” questions, the re-play of conversations, and a whole lot more. But thankfully, God has helped me land on one overriding question, “How can I love my family better?” This is my pursuit with the Lord.
The thing is, it is not about me, and it is not about you, either. Sure, I would love the support of my family, but moreover, I seek the approval of the Lord. I pray for His help, wisdom, love, truth, and forgiveness as He reveals the areas I fall short. Though I am far from perfect and I do not have it all figured out, I do know that He has called me to love my family unconditionally because God loves me this way.
Here is the deal: God loves us with an everlasting love, and He is faithful (Jeremiah 31:3). His “big picture vision” is that my family would know Him personally and walk with Him daily. Matthew 18:12-14 explains that He leaves the 99 to go after the one. Each person and each life is important to Him! If I am so caught up in my feelings and consumed with discouragement, then I am not available to the Lord should He desire to use me in their lives and the enemy wins (remember Ephesians 6:12). We are shown how to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh in Galatians 5:16-21. We are also instructed to be peacemakers and to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving because Christ forgave us (Romans 12:18, Matthew 5:8, Ephesians 4:32, see also Galatians 5:22-25). We are encouraged to “not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9, NKJV). John 6:44 tells us, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” We need to continue to pray for our family while remembering salvation comes from God alone, not through your efforts. Pray that your family would have a desire for God. Pray they would recognize their need for Him and they would respond by asking Him to be their Lord and Savior. Pray they would know Him and love Him with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Pray the Lord would send someone to speak His words into their life. Finally, be consistent in loving them right where they are and do not give up because God never gave up on you. Who knows, God may want to use you to reach your family or even someone else’s.