A missionary couple came to share God’s Word and God’s heart with us in Ann Arbor last weekend. Out of the many testimonies and powerful things that God did during the revival, the most impressionable thing that I remember is the time that they spent with our leaders. As they were sharing from their humility and own brokenness as parents, the pastor’s wife said something that really sank deeply into many hearts- “On behalf of your parents, I wanted to say that I’m sorry- we’re sorry for our mistakes and shortcomings.” We had spent a mere .75 days with them, and yet their surrogate apology was medicine for a lot of aching hearts in that room. I could hardly contain my tears as I thought about my own struggles with my parents.
Coming out of those few days, we headed into our One Desire Fast. Oddly enough, God laid a lot of burdens about my family on my heart, which led to some very long, hard, yet rewarding conversations with my mom that week. I grew up having to get used to not having her around a lot. She was always working to provide for our family, coming home for a late dinner, often without sufficient energy to spend time with us due to her failing health. It wasn’t until college that I started building a relationship with her over the phone (text messages will never replace a good old fashioned phone call!) Even over time and distance, I realized that she had always been my advocate, my friend, and someone who was able to show me grace in the midst of all of my rebellion and waywardness during my teenage years.
This past week was no different. I felt so ashamed as I painfully delivered yet another confession of my failure in an area of my life that God has been trying to correct. I didn’t want to tell her because I didn’t want to disappoint her, but I realized that it was not honoring to them to try and deal with this situation on my own. I feared the wrath that I thought was sure to come, but was instead met with a humbling response of rebuke, grace, and love. The main thing she wanted to know was why I hadn’t told her sooner. She didn’t hide her disappointment in the poor decisions that I had made, but she was also unwavering in her commitment to helping me in my situation. Her sacrifice to make up for my mistake was a tearful reminder of the gospel message. While they aren’t perfect, I’m thankful for my godly parents. I am finally understanding the truth and wisdom in this:
Ephesians 6:1-3 — 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.2 “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise–3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Perhaps you don’t have godly parents or maybe grieve over a broken family. May I encourage you to remember that you are rich in Christ through the spiritual family of believers? Has God placed anyone within your church community that plays the role of a spiritual mother, father, sister, or brother to you? Indeed, I’m more thankful that my parents are my spiritual family more so than that they are my earthly ones!
Coming back full circle, I think the way that this missionary couple ministered to us specifically in a “parental” manner really made this passage come alive for me:
1 Timothy 5:1-2 — 1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
I’m praying for more inter-generational relationships to be built within our church community. I believe that we can be a powerful demonstration and vehicle of redemption of what it truly means to be a family- the way that God meant for it to be.