There are times when attending a growing church is exciting…and other times when it is irritating. At times like these, questions arise. Should a church get this large? Wasn’t the first-century church small and easy to manage? Is it OK to make more room for our growing family…or should we attend elsewhere? The answers to these types of questions may surprise you.
Living harmoniously as a family is an ongoing, intentional journey. The beginning of that journey is marked by great anticipation and genuine excitement. A bride and groom have high hopes and great dreams as they start out life together. However, as in all journeys, unexpected challenges pop up, including the arrival of children, which requires the couple to cultivate valuable parenting skills—without a handbook! At each age, from preschool through elementary school, each child requires his or her parents to make adjustments along the way to keep the relationships harmonious. Just about the time parents get their arms around all of that, the teenage years arrive! This stretching and complicated time calls for even more adjustments and a greater willingness to change if the parents hope to sustain harmony in the home. Then, after all that adapting, a new set of challenges arrives—the children reach adulthood, with minds of their own. Can there still be mutual respect and meaningful relationships in the family? Can harmony continue between parents and their grown-up kids? Absolutely! The question is, how?
Too often, we end up saying “if only I had known then what I know now.” How deep the feelings of regret and anxiety in the hearts of parents who “blew it!” Since there’s no way to go back and relive our lives, we need to focus on the best way to respond to these painful memories. Otherwise, we will live under clouds of blame and shame and be paralyzed by fear.
Children eventually reach adulthood, with minds of their own. Can there still be mutual respect and meaningful relationships in the family? Can harmony continue between parents and their grown-up kids? Absolutely! The question is, how?
Psalm 127 and 128 paint a mural of inspired images depicting four stages of family life: the foundation of the home (Psalm 127:1–2), the expansion of the home (127:3–5), the child-rearing years (128:1–3), and the later years (128:4–6). These verses can help us appreciate, as well as improve, our families.
Just as a river without the boundaries of the shorelines can become a devastating force, love without discernment can sweep away the reality of sin and the power of grace. John’s letter to a lady and her children provides for us guidance as we seek to balance truth and love.
While parents continue to love their children no matter what, they cannot escape those occasions when wills clash, rebellion reaches an impasse, and things get downright impossible. The result? Harsh words and ugly reactions as parents stand their ground and sons and daughters react in stubborn defiance, refusing to back down. This is one of those times when the fun stops for parents.