I was asked to write about having a family of faith, and as I have been thinking about it, I cannot help but smile at how great it has all been. I love my family and cannot imagine what it would be like if we did not have a common faith in God and a determination to make life work together.
My wife, Tammy, and I were married in 1980. She was even thoughtful enough to pick an easy date for me to remember every anniversary: 8.8.80. Sometimes, husbands need all the help we can get. After we were married, we waited a few years to have children and along came Ashley, followed by Brittany four years later. Two beautiful little girls made us so happy, but, since I had no sisters, I was totally clueless, which I took many opportunities to prove. Like the first time Tammy was out of town for the weekend while the girls were young and I had to get them ready for church the next morning. Ironing little dresses that had yards of ruffles was not that hard, it took me a while, but I made them presentable. Bath time was easy … and how hard is it to heat chicken tenders for dinner or pour cereal into a bowl in the morning? But, I also had the “easy” task of rolling their hair the night before with sponge rollers, which I had never tried. If you do not know what those are, consider yourself as blessed as I was when no one took their pictures the next day. Yep, I did not know much, but, thankfully, Tammy has always seemed to know how to make things work.
As we dated, we never discussed the possibility that I might be the lone male in our home or that I would have to watch hours of “My Little Pony,” but there was something we both talked about and were committed to from the beginning — we were going to be a family of faith.
From the very start, we were committed to our home being a place for two people in love who had a faith in God. A lot of folks would think this came naturally since her dad was a pastor and I was in seminary planning for the same type of life, but what no one ever knew was that I had a lot of fears that took me years to face. My parents were two of the greatest and most loving people you could ever hope to meet, but their marriage ended when my brother and I were 16 and 10, respectively. At the time, I never considered how this would affect me as a young husband because the last thing a 10-year-old is thinking about is getting married! But, once I was a husband and a dad, these old thoughts, fears and questions started creeping into my life. How could we succeed with the best marriage? How could we not make mistakes? How would we be the perfect parents to these girls and the perfect partners to one another? If you have read this far, you no doubt already know the answer to all these questions — I could not, she could not and no one else can, either.
It has taken me a while, but here is what I now know about family: It has been the most rewarding and challenging experience of my
life. I also know that even if
you have really bad experiences, the love created far exceeds the troubles you endure, and if you are a family of faith, you never have to face hard times alone. From my perspective, I have seen a loving family without a strong spiritual center as a child and I have seen what it looks like to continually lean into God for your family. There is no doubt, families of faith have access to a strength that is amazing and unlike anything else.
It is encouraging to remember that God loves family. It was His idea from the beginning. He created man and put him in the most perfect of all places, a garden with no problems and no worries, and waited for that first man to realize he needed more — a companion — someone like him to love. Once man realized he was alone, God created woman and everything changed. For man, it was as if he heard the birds sing for the first time. The sky was clearer, the sun shined brighter and the stars popped in the night sky! I heard a preacher once say, “Theirs was the first marriage in the perfect garden venue, with God as the officiant and all of nature as a witness.”
The first family was a family of faith. They heard God speak and they followed God’s Word, until, one day, they decided not to believe that God knew best. The Bible has a unique word for this: sin. At its core, it means doing it our way in opposition to God’s way. God says to be truthful, but we think a lie would work better. God says be generous and we choose to be selfish. It is mankind’s universal problem. But even in our worst moments, God offers forgiveness and love. God has provided everything we need to be a person and a family of faith.
Many people have heard of or know by heart John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
And, there it is — the most irrefutable proof of the love of God. God loves us so much that He gives His family for us to be His family. Jesus, the Son of God, who came to Earth and lived a perfect life, died for our sins and rose to live eternally as the Savior of mankind.
To the young families out there, I highly recommend being a family of faith. Center your home on the truth of a God who loves and forgives as we accept His Son and then love and forgive each other. Find a place to worship with others who hold faith dear, and give your children the best possible future by giving them the security of knowing they will always be loved by their Heavenly Father.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” -Colossians 3:12-14
Gerald Griffin is the lead pastor at Preston Ridge Baptist Church in Frisco.