Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) – Ephesians 1:5 (The Message)
Family is an interesting concept. A week ago I wrote about the privilege of standing with Rebekah’s uncle George at the men’s retreat in Ohio. Related to me by marriage, but family nonetheless. This past weekend it was my cousin Peter Salmon and his wife, Kate, visiting Maul-hall here in Wake Forest.
The remarkable thing is that – because the Salmons served as a missionary family – I spent very little time with Peter, Graham, Linda, and Alison when we were all children. They did return to England eventually, but then (1975) I took this two-week trip to the U.S.A. and ended staying here, well, forever! After that, I saw Peter’s brother Graham when he stayed with us in Pensacola in 1988, caught up with all four siblings at a reception for my parents’ fortieth anniversary in 1992, and then nothing until Linda’s funeral in 2010. Yet. when Peter first visited Wake Forest this past summer it was like we had been best friends forever.
So I’m curious about this phenomenon of familial connection. I noticed it most profoundly in a long conversation with Peter’s sister Linda – via Skype – just a few weeks before her death in 2010. It touched me deeply because it helped me to understand a little of the spiritual bond that includes a real intimacy with God, and was more clearly defined because by then Linda already understood where her journey was taking her.
Writing about it at the time (and later in the book Reaching Toward Easter), I used the phrase, “when you don’t really know anymore where you come to an end and where God begins…” In other words, communion with God is as natural as breathing when we find ourselves immersed in that relationship. To be closer to one another, Linda and I simply had to move deeper into God.
If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him. – Jesus: John 14:7
What happens, essentially, when we make the choice to accept the invitation Jesus offers, to know him and thus know the Father, is that we accept the familial relationship and are adopted into the household of God with Jesus as our brother. Jesus becomes family, and with family there is a sense of knowing that runs so much more deeply than acquaintanceship.
So – because of Jesus – Peter is my brother in a more profound sense than he is my cousin. We are family twice.
There is a natural ease about family that we must seek after with God. If we want to know peace on earth, then we must become absorbed more completely into the love of Jesus. So our task is more than simply to shine with authenticity and with purpose, our task is to become brothers and sisters without regard to politics, race, status, nationality, age, or any other unnatural division.
The closer we all are drawn into God, the closer we are to one another. – DEREK
(Photos from the weekend – primarily with Peter and Kate)