I sat down at the dinner table after a long day at work.
I looked at my two beautiful daughters.
I saw the smile of my nine-month old baby boy.
I watched my wife put the final touches on our meal.
And as we joined each other around the table one of my daughters began to pray…and this overwhelming feeling came over me. It wasn’t simply thankfulness and appreciation. It was something different.
So different that I immediately jumped up after the prayer and began quickly typing what I was feeling. Here is what I wrote:
As I go home and sit around the table with my family, I know that no matter the war that has been waged against me throughout the day. No matter the forces that have come against me. And no matter how much I have been torn to pieces- the healing, restorative work of God through my family mends me and makes me whole again. I can courageously face another day, another week, another year because I have a family ready to receive me and shower me with love and acceptance. Praise God!
I am incredibly fortunate that I am able to experience this each day. And, I pray that I never take it for granted. It is not lost on me how many children and adults around the world do not get to experience this slice of heaven on earth…and it breaks my heart.
My heart breaks for…
The broken families.
The orphaned children.
The widows and widowers.
The parents who lost a child or children.
The loner without a family.
The homeless individual.
The individual locked behind bars.
The social outcast.
The disabled who have been abandoned.
I don’t think it is by chance occurrence that we read about Jesus communing with these very people- because every single person is valuable and needs a family who loves them, nurtures them, values them, prays over them, and allows the healing power of God to make them whole again.
The compassionate hand of our loving, nurturing God does not leave us alone and broken but welcomes and invites us into the most important thing on earth… family. And not one person, no matter the situation or circumstance, has been left alone without a family. For our Lord assured us that, “[He] will not leave [us] as orphans (comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, or helpless).”
The Spirit of God invites us in to a family.
The Comforter opens wide His arms and holds us when we are broken.
The Counselor gives us wise advice and guidance as we move along our journey.
The Helper gives us assistance and instruction when we are having difficulty.
The Intercessor groans, pleads, and prays on our behalf when we don’t have the words.
The Advocate works on our behalf with our best interest in mind.
The Strengthener lifts us up and encourages us when we have nothing left to give.
This is what I experienced at the dinner table that night- the Spirit of God working in and through me, but maybe more importantly, through each person in my family on my behalf and in my favor. I was loved. I belonged. I experienced a richness and fullness that could never be understood or experienced apart from God.
And it is through the Church that the Spirit invites everyone into a family.
The Church is the one place on earth where…
Widows and widowers.
Parents who lost a child or children.
Loners without a family.
Individuals locked behind bars.
The disabled who have been abandoned.
Are welcomed and invited.
Are comforted and encouraged.
Are prayed over.
Are advocated for.
And no matter the war that has been waged against us throughout the day. No matter the forces that have come against us. And no matter how much we have been torn to pieces- the healing, restorative work of God through this family mends us and makes us whole again. We can courageously face another day, another week, another year because we are a part of a family that receives us and showers us with love and acceptance.