When eight is not enough
When eight is not enough
By now most Americans have packed up Christmas and put it away. My dear wife took the tree to the curb almost a week ago. Today I spent time cleaning and a week later swept up pine needles. Football fans have watched most of the games with the exception of the NFL playoffs and the collegiate national championship. By now many have already broken New Years Resolutions and many of those that still remain will go done in flames within the week.
Soon will begin the annual rite of many to do year end stuff. Businesses will create annual business reports. Average Americans will think about w2s and taxes and how cold February might be. This is often accompanied by a longing for Springtime. Before we move away to fast from Christmas and New Years, may the holidays whisper to us of the passage of time and what really counts.
More than any previous holiday season this year hit me with the importance of family. Without a doubt my enduring memories will be the laughter shared over meals with a family of 8. My oldest daughter is a newlywed who lives in Tulsa. Another daughter is an out of town college sophomore. My son who is a college senior has a wonderful young lady in his life. Our youngest is a high school junior. For a brief few days we shared meals with all 8. For me it was magical. It did not matter so much what we talked about but that we were all together. The laughter of this crew was therapy without the bill. As the psalmist said "my cup runs over"
Days removed now from this holiday heaven I need to ask why. Why did this sharing time reach down to my core and fill it? These are my humble thoughts about one week removed from having everyone together.
First, I made choice. The Talmud teaches that if you do not have thankfulness for blessings it is as if you have stolen them. The apostle Paul lived the words he taught "in everything give thanks". Do I miss my adult children who are far away? Yes! Will I miss the times of God's favor to share by focusing on missing the adult children while I am with them? No! The Apostle Paul also taught to "redeem the time" and "make the most of every opportunity". Time is the only non renewal resource on the planet.
My love language is quality time. This meant I looked for time in the car or time over a meal. I listened more than I talked. When I did have something to say I wanted it to count. As a dad of 4 who are all in seasons of transition I pray to raise Godly responsible adults. From my perch I think this is happening.
Second, we experienced something that God has blessed. Jesus said to his disciples "come alone to a quiet place". He was expressing the desire to be with them. When he called his disciples the scripture records that Jesus "called to him those who he wanted, and they came to him ... that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach". Yes, a thousand times it is imperative for people to "be with Jesus". It is also true that God created relational people and he wants us to be in connection with each other. So, when a healthy relationship fills our relational tank, ultimately we have God to thank both for the relational connectivity with others and also the healthy relationships.
My final thought is that 8 is not enough. Those who gathered at our table were 8 in number. I once preached a message called "A family reunion with lost relatives". The point is that one of the best things people can do is to pursue a healthy family and prioritize it by investing in it. The God of heaven would have us then share what he has done by including others. The apostle Paul said to the jailer at Philippi "believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved- you and your household". God wants to reach our sphere of influence when we humbly ask for him to work through us and let others see Christ. Eight is not enough