This weekend the fam and I went home to visit our extended families, since it was a longer weekend. Family has become increasingly important to me (in my old age, ah ah ah), and I find myself longing to be closer to home. On my way home to Ashland tonight, I started thinking about home and how we relate to our family members those things that are most important to us.
When I first became a believer, I was gung-ho nutso about sharing my newfound hope with my parents, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, and pretty much any poor sap who happened to cross my path. I even entered into a scary debate with a guy on a sailboat in Australia about evolution. It was heated. I was irrational and emotional. It was embarrassing.
It can be so hard to show our love and how we've been changed by God to family, especially, because they all know we're not that great. It's a whole lot harder to fool family with our holy acts than it is our church friends. They know us too well to believe that God made it all 100% better and now we're a no-sinning saint. Ba-loney.
Anyway, I went on a Bible-buying spree. Anyone related to me got a Bible - birthdays, Christmases, I made sure that a Bible would be in-hand, and that it would be somehow user-friendly (study Bibles, women's application Bibles, etc.). I wanted to share the wealth of Scripture - I had found so many truths, so much hope, from its pages, and I just couldn't keep myself from gushing about God. It was great fun!
But, as I am with all things, I kind of got impatient with the Holy Spirit. They had these amazing books within reach and yet weren't taking advantage of them! I could picture these books sitting on shelves or stashed away in closets like the two electric knives Brandon and I got for our wedding - sharp, shiny, powerful, even, but completely unused and therefore rather useless, except for the special occasion - like Thanksgiving - when one might want to carve a turkey in electric super-speed, double-fisted vibrating knife fashion.
I found a Bible up in one of the bedrooms this weekend. I gave it to my brother a few years ago after I found out he gave his life to Christ at a youth retreat. It was still in the box - the gold-leaf pages still stuck together when I flipped through it. At first, you might think that this is a sign of disregard - maybe disinterest. I would have, if I had found it a few years earlier. But my brother isn't much of a reader. He's a listener. He cares deeply about people. And this weekend, I hung out with my brother and his fiancee for a while, and we talked about faith and God and the Bible and their church. We also line danced and laughed and had a few drinks.
What I've come to realize recently is that God has his own timing. God moves in people's lives in many, many different ways. Even though the physical Word of God spoke loudest to me as a new believer, others come to know him in other ways - maybe it is worship music on a Sunday morning that brings along some stirring in one's soul. Maybe it is the kindness and love of a friend that speaks ten times louder than the words in a book. Maybe it is "through the back door" as the modern poet, Mary Karr, says about her alcoholism and prayer and the Holy Spirit, first, and then Jesus Christ.
Whatever way it is, what is most important for me is that it does not depend upon me. It is the Holy Spirit's job to use us however he can, we just have to make ourselves available. What a relief it is to know that it isn't up to me alone to save family, friends, or strangers. The Lord stirs people's hearts in strange ways, and if we have made ourselves open to discussing the experiences we have had, it is a seed that the Farmer can sow, and one day, without our even being aware, there will be this amazing vine growing and showing off its fruits.
One last thought - if you are feeling discouraged or impatient with family in regards to spiritual matters, remember that even Jesus Christ's brothers doubted him, and it wasn't until after Jesus died and was resurrected that James became one of his own brother's disciples. Faith is a funny creature; there's no predicting how or when it will grow in someone's heart. What we can do, however, is follow Christ's commandment to love one another - can we do something so daring as to show love to our family members, those people it is so easy to disregard - mostly because they are stuck with us? And, pray. Pray, pray, pray. The Holy Spirit can work across the miles and in our own homes when we're sure we've done enough to annoy them with our holy-roller stories of how God is the greatest and I'm saved and you should be too so accept him already okay?!? As a consolation (LOL I had constellation before) prize, here's an electric carving knife...