Do I love my family enough to stay out of God’s way?
Before I was saved, I wanted nothing more than for people talking about God to just shut up and leave me alone. As you can see, God was undeterred by my avoidance of all things Jesus – ha! But when it comes to family, there is a siren’s song of control that is nearly impossible to resist because it calls itself love. “I’m doing everything I can to control you but it’s only because I love you – so stop fighting and do what I say!”
A woman called the office to ask some questions about Shulamite Ministries, and in the course of our conversation, she talked about her daughter. This woman basically told her daughter that she was being stupid for refusing salvation and she should just do it already. She said that all she wanted was to save her daughter from the years of pain and regret she’d experienced herself. At the time I was quite shocked, but the Lord brought it back to me in light of my current dealing with idolatry of family.
This woman didn’t do anything that I haven’t done: attempt to exert control over someone else’s choice. There are all sorts of ways to try to bend someone to my will. Having been on the receiving end of it for quite a while, I found mockery to be particularly effective in modifying behavior. If I didn’t like what someone was doing, I made fun of them. Maybe they should like different movies or books or clothes or people or cars or political theories or food; so I’d mock them to change them. Sometimes I even did it “for their own good,” because people would be cruel to them if they found out that they liked (fill in the blank). Better that I wound them than a stranger, right?? Sweet sassafras! There’s no end to my evil.
My methods are also far more insidious than the woman who called. At least her daughter knew exactly where she was coming from and what she hoped to achieve. No subterfuge there! So I’ve really been on my face with this seeing. I may not have an actual corpse on my ledger, but I’ve murdered enough joy to fill a mass grave ten times over.
And the thing is, I haven’t stopped wanting things for my family. I want them healed and healthy and loved beyond measure. I want them safe in the arms of God as His very own. Isn’t that a good enough reason to exert a little control if the opportunity presents itself?
I know what I think because I asked the question that answers itself. That’s my old nature, at her most tyrannical when she feels justified. But God didn’t deal with me in manipulation and subterfuge. He didn’t bombard me with guilt and shame and lies. He didn’t bury me under a pile of books that I never expressed any interest in reading, and He didn’t bombard me with a torrent of words about Him. The ends don’t justify the means. His Love, His Voice, His Words, HIS WILL – that is what I should want above everything else, including the salvation of those dearest to me.
And even though I don’t always want Him above everything else, still I can choose Him over what I want. Choosing His will above my own gets me out of His way, and that can only be good for the people I love.