God's Gift to Us - Family and Friends
I believe that family and friends are the most valuable gifts God has given us besides the gift of salvation.
Recently, I was driving on my way home from work and I started thinking about my family, I began thinking about how important my family is to me. I thought about how in life we can get distracted by the things of the world and how it can so easily take up our time and lure us away from God and our family. I thought about how at the end of the day when I look back over my entire life the one thing that I'm going to value is NOT going to be....The flash car that I owned, the flash house that I lived in, my physical condition, or the goals that I have achieved. The thing that I'm GOING to value the most will be how much quality time I got to spend with the gift that God has given me, and that's my family.
So when I got home from work I decided to take my wife out for a coffee and spend some quality time with her doing the things that she likes to do, so instead of taking my wife to McDonald's I thought I'd make an effort and take her somewhere nicer...so I took her to KFC...Just kidding, I took her to a nice cafe that she likes. After coffee my wife asked me if I minded if we went into our local Christian book shop which was across the road so she could have quick browse. I wanted to be a thoughtful husband so I agreed and we went in for a "browse". While we were in the shop my wife bumped into one of her friends and they proceeded to greet one another. After about 20 minutes of waiting patiently and looking at some of the books on the stand that we were next to us, pretending that I was interested in them. My attention turned to a book title that read "It all goes back in the box." I thought to myself, "what a boring title for a book, who would ever read such a boring book". So ironically I picked up the book and read the back cover to give this poor boring book a chance. The back of the book read...Fantastic career, a new house, a plush new car and a secure retirement. Good, all good - but is that what it's all about? No matter how skilfully you play it or how many tokens you acquire, a time arrives when the game of life comes to an end. Now what? NOW IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX no more game cards. No more tokens. No more promotions, no more financial planning. No more RV's and vacation homes. Game over... What did you win that you get to keep? I bought the book. And I love it!
This book posed a question that is worth thinking about...What did you win that you get to keep?
Isn't amazing how we go through life accumulating stuff. Did you know that in the US there are more than 30,000 self storage facilities in the country offering over a billion square feet for people to keep their stuff? We now spend over $12 billion a year just to pay some one to store our stuff.
Jesus said "do not store up for you treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do no destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". Our true home is not here on earth, it is with our creator in heaven!
Right from the beginning of time God was all about relationship. He created us so that he could have a relationship with us. There's a catch to creating a relationship and that is that relationships happen when you spend TIME together. The more time you spend with someone the stronger your relationship becomes.
Right from the beginning of time man became distracted by the things of the world and was lured away from God. Gen 6:3 "when woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it". From that day we were tarnished with separation from God. From that day we have entered into an ongoing battle between the lures of the world and spending quality time with our God.
The enemy will use many different angles to lure us away from spending time with God and our families (and friends). These lures are sometimes very subtle that you don't even realise it's happening. I know this is not rocket science but when we spend little time with God because we are distracted by the things of this world our relationship with God diminishes and in many cases to the point where we no longer spend any time with him at all. And... this can happen exactly the same way with our families.
One of my lures has been the pursuit of financial gain. In other words money, and I think it's a big one for a lot of people particularly men. I grew up in a world where it seemed like money was the answer to happiness. I developed a mentality as a kid that in life, I would be happy if I could get hold of a heap of money. I felt like there was a hole in me that needed filling. As I got older this illusion that money would give me happiness stayed with me, and the day came where I had reached a point where I had obtained a heap of money. But you know what, even though I was financially secure, it was not money that filled that hole in me it was God.Here are some comments of some of the wealthiest people of their day "The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it"-W.H.VANDERBILT. "I am the most miserable man on earth"-J.J ASTOR."I have made millions, but they have brought me no happiness"-John d Rockefeller. "Millionaires seldom smile"-ANDREW CARNEGIE. "I was happier when doing a mechanics job"-HENRY FORD. I'm not saying that if you had a lot of money you'd be unhappy. I'm just saying that a large bank account is not where true happiness is found.
For me the worst part about my pursuit of money is that 5 years of my life had just slipped away so fast that my 2 oldest kids had gone from little kids to nearly teenagers in a flash. The most cherish-able thing for me that I can remember clearly over the 5 years we were in business was the family holidays where we enjoyed one another's company just hanging out together. And you know hanging out together doesn't need to cost any money, whether you're in a flash resort swimming pool or on the beach, the joy is found in just being together.
At that point my wife and I decided to re prioritize our lives' and not let life slip by chasing after things that were not where true happiness lay. There's a saying that goes: You can always replace money but you can never replace the time not spent with family. It's so true, but not just with money, many other things can be replaced like...Possessions - cars, houses, promotions, hobbies, sport, socializing, and even ministry. Now I'm not saying that all these things are bad. I'm just saying that if we're not careful these things can get out of balance leaving us wishing we could turn back the hands of time and do things differently. There's an old song by Cat Stevens Called Cats and the cradle which is about a father who has no time to spend with his little son due to his work and one day when the fathers older and retired with time to spare, his son through watching his father too has no time to spare for his dad... and it goes on. Every time I hear that song I feel sad for the father.
God feels the same way about us when we give away precious time perusing things that are of no real value to us when the things that are of true value are right in front of us. The bible says in psalm 90:12 Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom. Or In the New century version it says "Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise". If we were told we only had six months to live we would quite easily work out what our real priorities in life are and where to spend our time more wisely. It's funny how we seem to live a life on this earth as if it's going to last forever forgetting that our time here on earth is really only a flicker in the realm of eternity.
I think there is one main key in helping us to have our family relationships in order and that is...spend time with God. But not only spend time with God, we need to also Rest in God-Mark 6:31 then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." In this verse there was a lot going on but Jesus saw the importance of pulling away and getting some rest. When life gets so busy sometimes we need to rest and step back to really see what's going on. Every time we plan to go on holidays, my wife has to convince me to commit to a longer holiday time frame because I always make up excuses and reasons why we shouldn't go away for too long so that we can stay on top of our business. However while we're away, I then realise just how much I needed to get away from it all and rest. When I step away from my busy life, I soon realise.
If we spend time with God through prayer and the reading of God's word, our spirit will be able to rest. It's in that resting place that we step away from it all and gain proper prospectus on our lives.
I could give you a big list of biblical does and don'ts of how to have a blessed family life. I think it kind of works like this... If you hang around certain things long enough you start to automatically become like those things. I remember when I was working as an apprentice electrician when I was working on a building site there was a lot of foul language on site and without even realising it I was starting to speak the same language myself. So if we spend time hanging around God we will AUTOMATICALLY live a life that speaks the language of God. I won't give you a big list of do's and don'ts. The better alternative to that is if you simply spend more time, and put your relationship with God first, you will begin to AUTOMATICALLY prioritize your life better and not get easily distracted by the lures of the world. Spending time and resting in God will...AUTOMATICALLY bring healthy relationships to a family. Spending time and resting in God will... AUTOMATICALLY bring blessing and provision to a family.
Spend time with God.