God’s Presence in Family Renewal
Parents who actively include God’s presence in family renewal times tend to create families that are spiritually healthier than others. In his excellent book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Stephen Covey emphasizes the importance of family renewal, which he calls “family times” and “one-on-ones.” Family renewal involves a look at the total wellbeing of a family. Parents can bring the Lord into the daily rituals of life such as going to bed, eating meals, driving and even doing chores. Parents who include God in their vacations, camps and retreats, books, family nights and even service to others create families whose children tend to have many happy memories of growing spiritually together. Children tend to feel more secure in their faith when God is a part of their everyday activities.
As you look at Covey’s diagram below, consider how your family is doing in each of the areas. What steps can you take to improve your family renewal?
Lighting the fires of spiritual growth and wholeness in our children is a daily decision. It takes a great deal of work and energy to pass the torch of our faith to our children. Please be assured that it is never too late and definitely never too early to ignite the faith fires in the lives of our families. Often there is much we can learn from our kids. They are not looking for a perfect spiritual leader with absolute biblical knowledge, but they do want one who can help show them the way.
As my mother lay in her hospital bed preparing to die of the cancer that had taken over her body, I struggled with the thought of leaving her for one day to speak to 6,000 high school students in Colorado. I wanted to be near her when she died. As the speaking engagement drew closer, I was leaning toward not going because Mom was so sick. I even asked a friend to fill in for me if I couldn’t attend. (The organizers of the conference where I was speaking were kind enough to allow a last-minute replacement if I chose to stay with Mom.)
The day before I was scheduled to fly out, my mother took a turn for the better. I had not seen her so alert for several weeks. We talked about my trip, and she urged me, “Go and help all those kids.” She said, “I’ll be fine and be right here when you get back.” I was torn; but I decided, with the prodding of my mom and dad, that I should go and speak and return as soon as possible.
I stopped by my parents’ home on the way to the airport. Mom was sitting up in her hospital bed. We talked for a short time, and then I turned to leave. She called me back to her bedside and in a weak voice simply said, “Jimmy, I love you, and I’m very, very proud of you.”
That night after I spoke to the students, I walked back to my hotel room where I got a call from Cathy telling me that my mother had died. I made arrangements to fly back to California earlier than planned and then tried to sleep.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I remembered her last words to me. What a blessing. What a spiritual giant.
You and I are to pass on the faith to the next generation. It’s our highest calling and our God-given mandate.