The ideas that I share with you in these weekly letters have been hashed, rehashed, discussed and argued over every morning over coffee with my wife Jill for at least 30 years. Being together for thirty minutes to an hour before we each go about our separate activities is crucial to us both as we begin our day, The resultant theology (remember, theology = what God is like) is very much a corporate product. We are discovering more and more about Him as we discuss Him together.
That is why, a few mornings ago, our time together was particularly significant. I was up first, at my computer, and Jill came in to great me as is her custom, but this morning there was no customary initial, drowsy negativity or even any pensive uncertainty—only positive enthusiasm. This is a rare occurrence, particularly if it is before we have remembered together in our discussions what God did at the cross and what that means to us today (and also had our first cup of coffee!).
Instead, Jill enthusiastically said, “Listen to the dream I just had!” Her dreams now are no longer nightmares as they used to be, but instead are more dreams of frustration for not being able to accomplish some task or reach some important goal.
However, in this dream Jill was lost and found herself flying helplessly down a long water slide, only to be thrown into a huge sand pile at the end instead of into a pool of water. Frustrated, she climbed out of the sand, back up the slide, and tried again. After the same initial, wild, out-of-control trip down the slide, she landed at the bottom—this time right in the middle of the backyard of her home in Georgia where she grew up!
As we talked about it, we decided (This is our interpretation of the dream) that God was telling her that no matter how tough, unpleasant, meaningless and out of control her life’s journey might appear to be, the ultimate landing is safe, familiar and “home.” The issue is not the “out of control” aspect, because a God who loves her is always ordaining her every step. No matter how many “dry holes” she might fall into, her ultimate good is assured. So, she can enjoy the ride as she uncovers those blessings in all of the unexpected circumstances of life!
As we have discussed the kingdom of God, His eternal purpose, over the past few weeks, it has begun to be clear that any hope of us finding meaning in life and the peace and joy that entails, depends totally on finding our place in that kingdom, the “family business,” that God is busily bringing about in the earth today, just as He has already done in Heaven.
There is one aspect to that kingdom in which almost all of us are involved this very day. This branch of the business will invariably bring us the most joy or the most heartache we will experience in this life, with little middle ground. It only makes sense for us to discover how to experience the former and avoid the latter, does it not? But most of us are not even aware that there is clear instruction in the Bible on how to learn to do so. We think joy or heartache is a crap-shoot in this particular kingdom activity in which we all are involved. What is it?
It is the human family into which we were born, were adopted into, or which we have created by marriage. It is in this family that God designed for us to experience our purpose for living: to rule over the earth for God as His vice-regents wherever we have been given authority, to bear His image and to reproduce children who will do likewise (Genesis 1:26-28).
The church, and hence our culture, has strayed far from the days when this was common knowledge and taught regularly from the pulpit as well as in the classroom, but it is the message of the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The family—a husband and a wife and their children—form the only basis for a functioning society; there is no other. It is the society’s most important task to protect and preserve it intact.
This is eternal truth that does not change, no matter the vitriol that is currently poured out on the faithful proponents of this view as they do not waver from engaging with the culture as they stand for truth. This kingdom rule begins in the family, and the Bible teaches how it forms the basis for a family to function successfully.
This has nothing to do with sins conquered, laws obeyed or righteous acts performed by us, i.e., producing “results.” It has nothing to do with our efforts to “do something” to have a successful, functioning family. It involves learning to think a new way, often directly opposite from the thought process of the culture around us and what we may have been taught. I like to call it thinking in a “kingdom way,” which is not a result but a process. Is not thinking a process and not a result?
I just read a blog posting by a good friend of mine on his blog called The Curmudgeon, entitled the Bible and the Belt, which is a classic example of what I mean. Here is the first paragraph of the posting:
”I just read a piece about Tua Tagovailoa, the transcendent quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Because the piece was on Deadspin, Gabe Fernandez chose to focus on what he loftily proclaimed was the “shitty parenting”, especially by Tua’s father Galu. Tua said that his dad would spank him with a belt for bad behavior, and that he was raised by “the Bible and the belt.” So, if his upbringing was so “shitty”, why doesn’t Tua resent his dad, the Bible or the discipline? Au contraire, even the same writer admits he idolizes his dad. Tua also loves the Bible and his Christian upbringing. Where’s the anger, the depression, the bitterness that the pundits of our “oh so healthy culture” say is the inevitable result of “hitting your kids?”
Does not Tua’s father’s discipline practice directly contradict the “wisdom” of the culture that teaches all “hitting” our children is evil abuse and produces “anger, depression, and bitterness?” Yet Tua is an outstanding citizen, a tremendous leader, 4.0 student and a generational football player who loves his upbringing, his parents and their faith.
The Tagovailoa family has learned “the kingdom way”’ to think. Next week I want to begin to look at the specifics of family life through that lens.