The last couple of weeks have been very hard for our family as we lost my father-in-law to prostate cancer.
He had been ill for a long time and we were prepared for his loss to some degree. However, the thought that he is now gone has rocked all of us in our own ways.
One of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mother was to tell my children that Grandad was so poorly he was going to die.
Experiencing the death of someone close to you is arresting. Day to day life goes on to some degree of course, especially if you have children.
But it makes you take a step back.
You are reminded of the most important things in life.
Suddenly the ones you love seem even more precious.
The little irritations in family life that sometimes disproportionately consume us seem totally irrelevant.
Each moment we normally squander so easily become times we treasure and value more.
Sadly, the experience of losing someone can often be a painful reminder to value the blessing of family more.
Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Whether that family is our own parents, those who have been like parents to us, our husbands, our children or close members of our church family, we were created by God to be part of intimate community with those we love.
God knows that we need intimate fellowship with those who understand us completely. He wants to bless us with the experience of love, a love that has echoes of the love of the Trinitarian God Himself.
Although the reality is that we mess up these relationships from time to time. That our human nature, what the Bible calls “the flesh” means that we let each other down.
We fail to honour the people we love.
We allow our feelings of love to be tainted by resentment sometimes.
Even our good intentions can be inhibited by the mistakes we make and the sinful impulses we often succumb to.
My own family life is chaotic. We shout a lot – more than we should, but hey we’re five headstrong people under one roof!
Often my kids drive me crazy with their rambunctious ways.
I let them down as a mother, I make mistakes, I fail them.
My husband and I don’t always resolve our disagreements peaceably – no kidding, eh?
And I know that I don’t always honour my parents as well as the Bible teaches me to.
This is the inherent nature of the family life we experience on earth.
And sadly some of these relationships can be irreparably damaged. Families can be disintegrated permanently.
And yet, amongst all this messiness, family is one of the biggest blessings God has given us for the enjoyment of our life on earth.
And despite the ups and downs most of us wouldn’t change our families for the world.
I know that the essence of this message is one we’ve all heard before. “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” are numbingly familiar.
But it’s true losing someone close does make your realise this truth afresh and I think God wants us to value what we have more.
Since the death of my father-in-law one of the things that has taken our family by surprise has been the depth of fondness people speak of him. Of course, we knew how special he was. But hearing the warm wishes of our friends and neighbours and their testimonies of how he always showed them love and kindness have been overwhelmingly touching.
We have seen him in a different light. Realised that he was gifted in ways that we sometimes took for granted. And that the world without him won’t be quite the same for many more than we had ever imagined.
God has given us families to bless us. To show us His abundant love. To teach us that love takes work, but reaps rewards more than anything material.
So let’s intentionally appreciate our loved ones.
Let’s celebrate the relationships we have.
Let’s choose to tell them how much they mean to us often.
And let’s give thanks to God for the special people He has blessed us with.
I want to finish today’s devotion with one of the Bible readings we have chosen for my father-in-law’s thanksgiving service –
The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
And now it’s linkup time!!!
Photo credit – Teresa Howes via StockXchng