Imperfect families

Someone said something the other day that got me to thinking. She mentioned the number of kids from broken homes in our school, and I think she was just lamenting the fact that so many families were broken, but something in what she said made it seem like having kids from broken homes was an undesirable element. That may not be what she meant — that part of the conversation was fleeting and I couldn’t get my thoughts together in time to ask about it before the tide of conversation turned to something else.

But it got me to thinking. I am from a broken home and an unsaved home. The Lord miraculously provided for me to go to a Christian school in my junior year of high school. I don’t really remember anybody treating me differently or seeming to look down on me or not wanting their children to associate too closely with me because I was from a broken family or wasn’t from a church family. Thank God! What was the starting point of my spiritual life might have had a vastly different outcome.

I’ve noticed in some Christian schools or churches that have bus ministries and such that there can be a disparity between the “church kids” and the others. Some of that is just the natural consequence that the church kids have known each other longer and spend more time together and therefore are closer than those who have not been coming long or who only come sporadically. But I would hope that the difference is not because the church families think their kids are somehow better and that they feel they need to be wary of spiritual contamination from the others.

I think many of us would have a hard time accepting the woman at the well (who had had five husbands), Rahab the harlot, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah into our church membership.

I don’t mean that we don’t need to be careful of our children’s associates. I have known kids from unsaved homes who have been an unstable element or who have tried to introduce unsavory elements. And I have also known church kids who walk the edge, who act one way around parents and teachers and another way among friends. I have been in Christian homes where the members act much differently than they do at church.

But I have also known some wonderful kids who come from horrible backgrounds for whom the grace of God has made a profound difference who have become wonderful, godly Christians.

The truth is we are all from imperfect families, and it’s God’s grace, not our church standing or family situation, that makes us acceptable in His eyes. Accepting His salvation and then obedience to His Word and being filled with His Holy Spirit are what make for Christian character, and that’s available to anyone. Though ideally we’d love for every child to come from a loving, godly, unfragmented Christian home, it just doesn’t happen that way. And if our Lord took special care to reach out to someone like a woman who had had five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband, are we right to keep our distance from such people?

Elisabeth Elliot wrote in Keep a Quiet Heart:

While visiting [a] Bible College in South Carolina, I found in the library a little book called Father and Son, written by my grandfather, Philip E. Howard. He writes:

“Do you remember that encouraging word of Thomas Fuller’s, a chaplain of Oliver Cromwell’s time? It’s a good passage for a father in all humility and gratitude to tuck away in his memory treasures:

“’Lord, I find the genealogy of my Savior strangely checkered with four remarkable changes in four immediate generations.

Rehoboam begat Abijah; that is, a bad father begat a bad son.
Abijah begat Asa; that is, a bad father begat a good son.
Asa begat Jehoshaphat; that is, a good father begat a good son.
Jehoshaphat begat Joram; that is, a good father begat a bad son.

I see, Lord, from hence that my father’s piety cannot be entailed; that is bad news for me. But I see also that actual impiety is not always hereditary; that is good news for my son.’”

I Corinthians 6:9-11 says: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” I am so thankful for God’s washing, sancifying, and justifying!

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Ephesians 1:6-7.

During my freshman year in a Christian college one of my upperclassmen roommates was from a very similar background to mine. One of the best things that ever happened to me was the realization that if she could live for the Lord, then so could I. I used to think of my family as somewhat holding me back from being and doing all I could for the Lord. Instead I needed to see them as in need of the same grace I had received, and God placed me in that family to love them and tell them about Him. What a child from a broken and/or unsaved home needs most is grace and hope. II Peter 1:3-4 says, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” They need to know that in Christ and His Word they have everything they need to live for Him and to be and do all He wants them to.

3 thoughts on “Imperfect families

  1. Thank you for sharing this.
    I feel this sometimes when I hear comments about “prison”.

    I feel like saying, “But it’s not my SON’S fault! He’s just the same little precious he was when his daddy was home.”

    People like to point fingers at others. I think sometimes it’s to make themselves feel better because they’re not “as bad” as someone else.

  2. Hi Barbara,

    Thanks for the kind comment on my smocking. The blue/white dress is merely smocked. One of these days, I need to make it into something wearable. 🙂

    By the way, how is your cross-stitch coming along?

  3. Pingback: Wanting Things To Be Perfect | Stray Thoughts

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