Written by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan (with the lovely Dunagan family pictured at left).
Are you putting a family photo in this year’s Christmas cards? If so, I’m curious if you have an “inside” story behind your happy-looking picture?
Have you ever had a bad picture day? I’m referring to one of those photo-effort-extravaganzas which may have captured some successful family smiles, but left everyone, kids and parents included, totally disgruntled?
With seven kids (and challenges with coordinating college and work schedules, not to mention clothing colors), we have definitely had our share of photo-day-disasters. Fortunately, even in our worst photo-moments, we are usually just dealing with some silly frustrations. In the end, most of us are usually thankful for a current picture of everyone together (or at least Momma’s happy!!!).
One wonderful aspect about having God as our focus and bulls-eye center of family life is that He always knows the inside scoop, even more than we do. None of us can fool the Lord, because He always knows the truth.
We all want happy families, lasting marriages, and good kids — not only for that impressive yearly photo or month-by-month annual family recap, but for that daily, behind-the-scenes, real-life joy. The Lord sees everything and watches us continually. Like that Santa Clause song, God really sees “when you’ve been bad or good”; but He loves our families enough to help us, (and fortunately His love is consistent, whether we’ve been “naughty” or “nice”).
The Lord sees inside our walls and behind closed doors.
He sees inside our “real” day-to-day family life . . . and He cares.
One of the reasons why I wrote The Mission-Minded Family – was to bring encouragement and God-centered focus to daily family life. From God’s Word, I know that it’s not enough to merely “look good” in our yearly Christmas photo, or to sit all-neat-and-orderly in the church pew (or in our situation, church chairs). It’s not enough to accumulate impressive mission-minded adventures, or to raise a houseful of exclusively homeschooled scholarship-winning kids (to make us, as parents, feel approved by others). It’s not enough to just make “enough” money or to live in a cute clean house.
So, what’s it all about?
The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14,
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.”
I love pondering this verse, especially the fact that God sees and judges every secret GOOD thing we do, both the good things we do individually and the good things we do as a family . . . not just the bad stuff!
God has a destiny for each family, and He has a divine balance for each day. He has a plan for each individual member, as well as a “corporate” purpose for each family unit. As Christians, we have been entrusted with God’s salvation and the truth of the gospel – and our world desperately needs it. Every day, across the globe, about 150,000 people will die and face their eternal future; most of these people are not saved; and about 80,000 of them never even heard about Jesus.
As mission-minded families, we love God; we hate sin; and we surrender to His purposes. Instead of living for ourselves, we’re helping to expand God’s kingdom. As we’ve emphasized God’s Great Commission and having compassion for hurting people, along with continually seeking God’s divine daily balance, the fruit in our personal lives has been awesome. By God’s grace, our marriage is strong and full of romance, our home is happy, and our kids are experiencing God’s blessings and favor. But these “perks” of the mission-minded life are not our focus.
God doesn’t want our families to be self-absorbed, merely consuming groceries and surviving another week, or another year. God created us to glorify Him.