Family! #TraditionallySouthside

Family is almost everything, isn’t it? I mean, it isn’t salvation, but it is through family that we should learn about salvation, so that’s where the almost comes in. Family is where we learn what true love is. The nurture of fathers and mothers start us on the path of understanding that love is more than a word or even a feeling — it is action that does whatever is necessary to cause the recipient of one’s love to reach his highest potential. Family is where we come to understand responsibility. In the old days, back when I was a kid, everyone had a job or jobs to do in the family. As I grew older, my responsibilities went from washing dishes and taking out the trash to working in the garden and taking care of all the animals. My dad taught me a valuable work ethic. He always said, “Son, you might not be the strongest, and you might not be able to work the hardest, but you WILL work the longest.” I can remember many nights working until after dark, and even sometimes cutting sugar cane till almost midnight when we saw on the evening news that there might be frost. Family is also where we learn to trust. I never felt safer than when I was with my family because I knew that they would always protect me. Don’t get me wrong. As the youngest of five children with a brother and three sisters, I was often the source of trouble and the recipient of the consequences of that trouble. We fought. We fussed. We feuded. But heaven help anybody that wanted to fight one of us because you didn’t just get one — you got us all. Family is almost everything, isn’t it?

Now I’m a husband and a father and a grandfather. It’s as if a whole new concept of family has been born. I just thought I knew what love was as a child, but when you  find that perfect woman to be your mate for the rest of your life or when you hold those precious babies that God puts into your care or even when you see those precious grandbabies for the first time, you realize that you never truly understood what love was. Responsibility takes on a whole new meaning. And safety? Wow! Suddenly things you never worried about are foremost in your mind, but through it all, God shows you a little glimpse of how He feels about us. Suddenly there are people that you would literally die for just because they are your family. And just when you think you couldn’t possibly love any more than you do, you get the news! We are expecting our third grandchild in February of 2016. Lucy is going to have a baby brother or sister and we are so excited. God is good!

Well, I’ve been thinking in recent days about an old song we used to sing every Sunday in the church where I grew up. The pastor would welcome everyone to the church service, and then we would all stand to greet one another. Everybody would hug and shake hands while the piano played the song in the background. After a few times through the song, the Minister of Music would start singing those old familiar words: “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God….” You know the song, don’t you? You are probably singing it in your head right now. “…washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood.” Amazing isn’t it? Just the mention of the song triggers so many good feelings. “…joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod….” The thought of a family that transcends genetics, races, cultures, and languages. A family where love reigns supreme as we work together as co-laborers with God to change the world, fighting for what is pure and holy and righteous. Fighting for each other! “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God!” Are you?

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