My “Family” came first
My Journey of grace began in and with my family. How can I possibly talk about grace and love, when I do not love those who are closest to me? (1 John 3:11;18; Mark 12:28-31 ). In my life, my wife Selma came first. When we became parents our children came first, and they continue to be with their families as long as we live. I learned it from my parents, who during hard times, fed us children before they ate. It was Jesus who set up that rule Himself.
“What father among you, if your son asks you for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:11-13).
Unfortunately, we do live in a world where husbands, wives, fathers, and even mothers who do worse when they abandon and desert their children; and leave them at the mercy of others, who have their own burdens. Even parents, who are doing favor for some children, cause pain and animosity. My mother did it unconsciously — and we had to deal with ill feelings, which we did not forget; therefore, we have tried to avoid doing likewise.
Marriage is the “Reason” for Parenting
To manage the earth, man must procreate! And procreation was and still is a command of Elohim (Gods) (Genesis 1:26). God made the world and put it in space. And then God made man to multiply so they could keep up with a “recreating” world. Something did not turn out as was intended because Satan and his angels landed on earth; and they began to cause confusion and chaos (Revelation12:7-12). Satan was already in the world when Adam and Eve arrived. Satan was and is an evil spirit that can only function through human beings. Satan turned himself into an “angel of light.” Satan used beautiful and enticing women to capture the sons of God as husbands (II Corinthians 11:14; Genesis 6:2). By the time of Noah, Satan controlled the world by controlling man and almost eliminated humanity. Then, Satan led man to believe that God was behind the evil, which Satan himself was doing (Genesis 6-8). The only good thing that came out of the “Flood” was that Noah saved his family by believing and obeying what God had commanded (Hebrews 11:7). Jesus reminded his generation of the loss of Noah’s generation, and again warned all generations against becoming disobedient unbelievers of God (Luke 17: 26-37; Matthew 24:36-44).
So God made a special person for man to manage himself and give himself some offspring. Without the reproduction of humans, the world would become a useless jungle. Thus, the family of a man and a woman is the “key foundation” of civilization. And that foundation is key to preserve the maintenance to sustain the world. A people or a nation, which stops having children or becomes promiscuous will soon cause its own demise. Adam and Eve did let Satan, the devil, in and their lives became a shamble. They lost their affinity to God, their unity among themselves, and their godly environment (Genesis 3). In the Bible, every leading family was disrupted and broken up. Noah blamed his grandson for his exposure, Abraham had to throw out his son Ishmael, Jacob cheated and ran from his brother Esau, Jocob’s sons sold their brother Joseph, David’s lusting for Bathsheba nearly cost him his life, and his grandson Rehoboam lost the kingdom of Israel. And the people, who were led by their priests and prophets, insisted that this was being approved by God? And there was Jesus Himself — whom his friends regarded, “as being beside Himself” (Mark 3:21,31-35).
Now, what “Role” could God have played in their lives, in mine or in ours?
From the beginning of man’s appearance on earth, man has tried to picture who and what the Creator was like and what He is doing? The first writer imagined God was like “a spirit and the wind” moving over water and saying (amar), “Let there be: ‘light, land, waters separate from the land, day and night, waters fill with life, earth bring for vegetation, animal and birds appear, and men and women appeared.’” In Genesis, chapter One, the writer, God does not create or make, but God “Commanded” that the world and everything in it appears alive as it is. This mystery, Jesus promised his disciple that would be resolved, when the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God returns to the world (John 14:23-26).
God had withheld His Spirit from man before the flood of Noah (Genesis 6:3). God’s Spirit did return in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was begotten of the Holy Spirit and not of man (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35). The Holy Spirit did shed light on how and what God has done and still continues doing in every human life, saint or sinner. The writer of the Gospel of John received this insight:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the Life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
Similar insight the Holy Spirit conveyed to the Apostle Paul:
“The God who has made the world and everything in it, being Lorde of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And He made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods (grace) and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in hope that they might feel after Him and find Him. Yet He is not far from each one of us, for ‘In Him we live and move and are;’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed His offspring’” (Acts 17:24-28).
Man is feeding on “God’s Grace” and he does not even know it
Regarding myself, I did sponge off grace during my first twenty-one years of my life. I was not cognizant of what “grace” stood for. Grace was and is not some gift, but “grace” was and is the “period of life” granted to me, during which time I can rendered valuable service on earth, which builds up credits in heaven. In my first tweny-one years, I was not useful, and neither shall I be when I am dead; for it was Jesus who restored “grace” among men and declared, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Mark 12;27).
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. (John bore witness to him, and cried “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.’”) And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1:14-18).
Paul had this “Vision” of the Restorer of Grace:
“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).
Simon Peter knew first hand how close he came in being trapped by the devil
“The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (II Peter 3:9).
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, from in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever” (I Peter 5:6-11).
The family is God’s institution and not man’s. And the family was and still is “in the family” where I have learned to practice grace: first in my parent’s life, and now in my own family. It did call me to being humble and willing to suffer for my loved ones. And I learned more about God and His Son Jesus by practicing grace. I shall share more in the next chapter on man’s perceptions of God and grace.