There is an old saying, “we can choose our friends but we’re stuck with family”. The implication is a negative one. For many of us family has become a bad word and we avoid them like a disease. Maybe not all of them, but I think we can all relate to having that one crazy uncle.
God Kept Sending Us Broken People
I had a good childhood with two parents that worked hard to provide everything I ever needed but, then I had this rather unique experience. When we started our church in 1989, the Lord kept sending us broken people. Really broken! I kept scratching my head because I didn’t feel qualified to pastor people that I had absolutely no understanding of the challenges and difficulties they had faced in life. 80% of our church came from no church background and almost all of them had history with drugs, prostitution, rape, prison or parentless upbringings. In 1994, I was on the verge of quitting the ministry until the Lord spoke a very simple word to me that changed everything. I will never forget it, he simply told me not to fix them, but love them. That was something I could do.
Just Love Them
Obviously, I don’t have time to tell the whole story in this short post, but I want to highlight one important truth I discovered as God taught me to love these people he was sending. I began to discover a central theme in all of their lives as I got to know each one of them one by one. Family pain. Each one of them had endured a tremendous amount of pain growing up and it had affected their ability to receive love and give love. Sometimes it was one big event and other times it was a life of recurrent events. In either case, these events affected their ability to understand and receive the Fathers love.
A number of them saw their families as a curse rather than a blessing. For some, they believed they were a mistake because of the way they had been conceived. For others, family was where bad things happened. What amazed me most is how God took all us. From all of our different backgrounds and experiences and created a family out of us. I have always felt I learned more from them than I ever gave and God did heal many of them.
This week was the one year anniversary of the death of my 100 year old grandmother. She was an exceptional woman that shared the gospel with every person she met. My grandmother never learned to drive, so she took the bus everywhere and I would occasionally run into her and she would always be sharing the gospel with someone. I would ask her if I could take her somewhere and usually she would decline so she could continue to love on the people she had met.
God Has Chosen Your Family Heritage
Many times I have wondered why God chose me to love people the way I do. This week I was reminded of my heritage. Both sides of my family are filled with regular people who never looked for a position in the church, but who faithfully lived out the gospel before me day in and day out. We don’t choose our families, but God does, and he doesn’t make mistakes. You were specifically chosen to follow the lineage where he placed you. Your gifts and talents all line up according to your family and the bloodline that runs within you. You don’t have to follow their mistakes and failures, but all their gifts and exceptional qualities are available for you to become the very best you could ever be. Recognize that God has given you a great heritage because at the end of the line you will find God as your Father. Be blessed and receive the blessings of your heritage. Make a decision today that you will invest your God given qualities back to the Lord and then do it. Be thankful for your heritage, God never makes a mistake and he will take you to places you never imagined. I can’t wait to hear your testimony!