I grew up in a pretty big family. I’m number 5 of 7 kids. My parents are divorced and both are remarried, which adds another level of extended family on both sides. I always felt like I had a big family, especially compared to other people who were, for example, only children.
But then the Lord did something. I think this whole thing started about two years ago. My husband’s dad had died recently, and we had discovered I was pregnant. We had friends coming out of the woodwork to come alongside us and support us through all of it. I realized something that I thought I had always known, but I guess had never experienced before:
You don’t have to share blood, names, or a home with someone for them to be family.
And God has been continuing to show me this ever since then.
For most people in America, Thanksgiving means being surrounded by family and pigging out. For me and my husband, that’s not always the case. We always get together with his side of the family around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, but we don’t always have the chance to see mine. Most of my family lives only a couple hours away, but I have siblings in Nevada and Arkansas, and my dad and step mom in Tennessee. I don’t remember the last time all of us were together in one place…maybe our wedding 3 and a half years ago?
This year, it was just us on Thanksgiving Day. When people asked our plans, we told them we didn’t really have any. Then one Day, a wonderful family from our church invited us to join them. Their whole family would be at their home Thanksgiving evening for supper. We knew them and their grown kids well, but we had never met the rest of them. We had a choice:
Would we accept the invitation into their family, or reject it? We always have that choice. We said, “Yes.”
And I’m so glad we did. We had amazing food and a great time with our extended family. The Lord had shown me once again that my definition of family was no where near as inclusive as His.
Right now my husband and I attend a small home church most Sundays, but we also serve in the children’s ministry at a big church once a month and attend church with family when visiting them. Committing to one church is great, but the Lord also gives us the freedom to go from place to place. And, in fact, I think it offers a chance to bring unity among different churches, but that’s not the point.
The point is that I feel at home in all of these places – our home church, our big church, the church I grew up in – because we have family in all of those places.
As believers, I think that we forget what it means to be brothers and sisters in Christ. When we are adopted into His family, we don’t realize what that really means.
I think it is a huge blessing, but I also think it is a huge call. We have access to millions of brothers and sisters worldwide, and I think it’s important to see it in that way.
The call is this: As a believer – someone who is part of this big family – will you take the step to invite others into it? Whether that means sharing the good news with people who don’t know Jesus yet or even inviting other Christians into this place of family.
I am so thankful for the family we have – the ones who secretly invited twenty-some people over just to remind us that we were loved when I was pregnant, the ones who brought us into their family for Thanksgiving, the ones who get together with us weekly. But if those people hadn’t asked, and we hadn’t said yes, I wouldn’t know about how beautiful this family could be.
I don’t ever want to forget how important it is to invite people into my family and to not be afraid to say yes. The enemy uses our isolation against us. If we, the body of Christ, could ever realize the fullness of the family we’ve been adopted into, it would be revolutionary. In Christ, we all come from a big family – even those only children.