Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Big Families

If I’ve been remiss in blogging this week, it is for good reason. The Kittles, friends who go way back to our early ministry days, are in town.

After six attempts to have a girl, number seven was a charm, meaning that they have seven energetic children; not a shy one in the bunch. Like us, they are a family committed to a fasted lifestyle and living a life simplified enough to make home the first line of defense. They are in short what the American dream once was, but in its self-striving reaching, lost in the building of human empires.

I’ve watched Melissa calmly sitting spreading mayo on yet another sandwich while marshaling a group of strong minded young men coming of age and full of testosterone; yet she possesses who she is as a woman. She is quiet spoken until, in the clatter of our sporadic conversations, we hit her “righteous ire” button, and suddenly a temperament arises that scatters demons.

We can learn a lot from watching large Spirit-led families operate. When there’s a problem, call a meeting, find a consensus, pray, and then follow the leader who follows God--Dad. And you follow him, not out of obligation, but because you are a family and you’ve been given reasons to trust your leader—he’s been tested and tried and has proven himself reliable; God created that model for a purposeful eternal picture.

Yet the Kittles exhibit proof that there is no carbon copy model for raising a family; you create a God-inspired environment, and leaders emerge, each intrinsically possessing elements for which you can take no credit, but for which only their Creator can stake a claim. If ever there was a testing ground for watching fully formed individuals emerge, it’s within such a family.

The world says that we need small families so that each child receives optimal attention. But the large family provides attention in abundance as well as teaching the older ones how to care for the younger ones; and the younger children learn from watching the elder brothers. The object lessons arising from that are legion. I’ve realized that parents operating in humility and wisdom birth fully formed minds rather than the toxic practice of falling in line marching to the frenetic pace of ushering and taxiing that parents succumb to in modern life.

I never cease to be blessed when the Kittles come to town. I’m humbled and reminded of my place in the Body of Christ and that my individual purpose is fulfilled in interdependent community.

I’m thankful to the Father that He has placed me in such a large family, one He affectionately calls My Body.