Gaining a Family Vision
When most people think of the future, they think of the husband or wife they would like. They often think about this rather concretely. But when it comes down to thinking what kind of family one would have, very little thought is usually given to it.
If a person does think about these kind of home they would like, it is usually because they have been either very impressed or 'depressed' with a certain family. They might not think consciously about this, but down deep they say to themselves, "This is the kind of family I would like," or "This is not the way my kids are going to act!"
What kind of children do you want? How do you expect your relationship with your spouse to operate? What is your expectations of the other spouse? These are questions that are hard to discuss because they always seem so remote and distant, or there is just no one leading this type of stimulating conversation.
Our own family has evolved over the years. Now almost 25 years later, we think we are just ready to grow out of the big learning curb that we have been stuck in for so many years. We have a whole scrapbook of mistakes that we could open up and shown you how to have a better and family - easier and quicker.
We were driven by culture rather than scripture. Indeed there were some constraints on our lives by the Word of God but not many touched on the raising of children. We just lived by the Christian culture of the time. The culture however failed us. In fact, it will always fail us as parents. We need to go back to principles of the scripture and move from there. Now it might seem that if we do this that we will not have much to go on. The verses don't seem to say too much. This is where experience comes in. With experience one can also blend these commands with the many life situations filling the pages of the Bible.
But let me jump many years ahead, at least as far as we are concerned. What is it that God promises to those faithful couples? Many people only have distorted views of what marriage are and use it as a place to show power, manipulate others, indulging oneself, etc.
God wants marriages that are full of joy and love. The family rotates around the Lord and what He wants. The parents love being together. They have worked out a way of resolving all of their faults and failures. Each has been humbled before God by his or her own faults and so know how to graciously forgive and restore the other. At times there are no points of conflicts. At other times, there is plenty of opportunity to use these restoration methods.
Most of the extra struggles are during special mood times of the wife. If the husband is sensitive, he will be extra gracious and will ignore her remarks. Instead he will tell her how much he prizes her. This is a perfect time 'for love to cover a multitude of sins.' Sometimes the two have become involved in a conflict without even knowing it. The wife realizes that sometimes her reasoning goes awry and becomes too critical. The husband encourages the family just to keep loving every one. The wife quiets down when she picks up on the clue that she is not acting her normal self. She humbles herself and asks the Lord for extra grace.
The husband and wife regularly, if not every day, at some point sit down and discuss the day in light of what is happening and what God might be teaching them. They then pray together for each other, the family and their ministry concerns. These ministry concerns are the opportunities for them as a couple or as a family to serve and pray for others. We might be trying to figure out how to reach out to a couple having problems. This is also a time for the husband to relate what is going on in his work. The wife is valued as a helpmate. The husband knows that the wife's input is critical to his job even if she knows little about it. He takes time to share with her.
The wife is busy at home. She knows her primary assignment from God is to be a great helpmate to her husband. She values this special 'assistant' role and stays alert in prayer. She does put a lot of time into caring for the children. This includes all stages of life: carrying them in her womb, extra sleeping to help adjust for their coming, careful eating to maximize nutrients given to the baby, orchestrating the child's clothing and furniture, bearing the baby, nursing the baby, praying for the baby, and the million other things she gives for the sake of the baby. Modern machines help save time, but they can also be distracting. She has little time for such things because of her important duties run her overtime most everyday. She has no 'my own time.' She as Mary is God's humble servant set out to do what He desires. More than this, she never forgets that she is a wife and a minister of the gospel by caring for those around her.
The husband prizes his wife. He is thrilled with her. As he sees her growing in years, wisdom and love, his appreciation for her multiplies. He keeps his heart and eyes just for her. He only desires the wife of his youth. She might be older with wrinkles, but still she holds his attention just as the sun blocks out the distractions of everything near it. Because of this delight in his wife and purity of heart, the wife knows that she can fully trust him. She can be more and more transparent before the Lord and her husband. She knows she is loved even in her 'hard' days. During these times the Lord uses this special trust to bring extra healing to the man and woman's hearts. They are, after all, learning more about the Lord through their deep interchanges with each other.
This husband purposes to love her non-stop. He knows there will be difficult times ahead. There will plenty of opportunities to 'give up' on her, but he commits himself for life to love her all the way. When she is big, clumsy with child or sick, he loves her the same if not more. He is patient about intimate times. They will have to wait. His first mission is to perpetually cast his care upon her. He dare not manipulate her to get his liking to her hurt or discomfort. He not only prays with her but prays for her each day. His greatest joy is to be near her. He likes to go out with her every week or so. He does not splurge. It is not the money spent or the place but the opportunity to be together discussing life together. They both know this. They do not live for money. They live together to serve God and others including their children.
Their children are not a bother. They are a great gift of God. At times the father might get busy. But he sees to it that he can have some fun times with them. The Dad isn't busy indulging his eyes with sports, women or fantasies with fame. He is proud to be a dad that likes spending time together. There are many points of tension between work and fathering, but by God's grace and wisdom he works through them even if it means turning down a promotion that would keep him away from home. The dad takes his responsibility for instructing the children seriously. He works on his own character as well as the character of his children.
Even though he wife helps out tremendously, the dad takes full responsibility for managing the house. He initiates goals and plans but needs his wife to help him out. He takes special time out to talk with the children about the scriptures and worship God. They together memorize, discuss and read the Bible. The children might be a bit sharper in memorizing than dad, but this doesn't stop him from joining with them. He will wrestle with his boys and listen to his daughters talk about their handicraft or playmates. He will even specially meet with them at times to train them better on God's Word. The wife will keep the husband abreast of what is happening in the neighborhood, friends, and problems. He will step in to help when there is a need.
The husband will protect the wife from any sort of arrogance or independence in his children. He will not allow his children to strike each other. He will firmly speak to any one that speaks against, attempts to hit, shows disrespect to his wife. They always need to show honor to their parents. Talking back is not permitted. The father provides for and guards over his family. This doesn't mean that he has all sorts of money to meet every one's expectations! On the other hand, the parents through their examples shows everyone how to carefully shop and spend.
Home is where the children want to be. They might be chastised to chase away their pride and irresponsible behavior, but still home is where they want their friends to be with them. The home is not just a meeting place. It is a place to congregate, enjoy each other, learn God's ways and bring their friends.
As the parents grow in their love for the Lord and each other, the children's hearts are rightly shaped and readied for their own lives. Most of them have taken turns of wanting to be a Christian. The parent has patiently prayed and shared with them at different times. He doesn't pressure them but just good encouragement. The children all know that the family will be in heaven and they don't want to be in hell. God's way is the best way. They grow taller, eat more and start wondering who they will marry. The husband and wife take turns when seeing a child struggle with some matter to go in and talk with them about it. There might be misunderstandings, hurt, bitterness, anger, confusion or even loneliness, but the parent and the child can talk with each other. In fact, as the children grow parents and children have more and more fun together. The fruits from early discipline have ripened! These young men and women are a joy to be around.
Is it possible to have a great marriage? Sure is. We just need to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and He will show us how. Plenty of sad cases around us. When we play around with God's commands rather than obey them, we open the door to trouble. The more we get serious about marriage, the more God is enabled to help us see how to do this.
Why not make a commitment right now before the Lord on being serious about having a godly marriage. When one knows what kind of marriage one desires, then one can properly seek the right kind of mate. One is less able to be carried away. As one makes this commitment, the man and woman realize that there are things about their lives that must be eliminated.
I ________________________ by God's grace take on the ambitous goal of having a godly marriage. I give up my purposes for popularity, wealth and prestige. I have a greater task set before me, the task of being a godly and faithful husband/wife and father/mother. I accept this and will begin to take the changes in the way I conduct my life to be that excellent parent.
Dear Father in Heaven, please help me in keeping this vision before my eyes. There are so many torubled marriages. People keep saying fights are common and normal. Lord help strip all the bitterness and anger out of my heart and instead fill me with the grace and mercy of Christ. Lord keep me at the foot of the cross where I learn to lead by serving in love. The world gives me a sad model. I turn to You to help me fully understand my strength and courage to be completely faithful to my covenanted partner and the fruits of our relationship. In Christ's Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Paul J. Bucknell
Biblical Foundations for Freedom