But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. Genesis 33:4 ESV
On Thursdays, we consider the relationships God placed in our lives. Usually this included disciple making with friends, neighbors and coworkers. However, one of the key relationships God has placed in our lives includes our extended family. I’m late posting today because I’m at my in-laws spending time with them and preparing to travel to see my extended family. Overall I have strong relationships with my family, and this trip has provided great opportunities to strengthen them. All of this involves a part of my and their spiritual formation.
This trip has provided time to spend with an estranged family member. Simply hanging out with him strengthens our relationship and helps affirm his value to God. Affirming some wise choices he has made and gently challenging some unwise ones are attempts to disciple him and lead him back to the Lord. We have also enjoyed affirming my in-laws. My wife and I have seen the Lord work powerfully in their lives, and both are exhibiting growing evidence of the fruits of the Spirit. My in-laws are handling a stressful period (transitioning my mother-in-laws out of state mother into a retirement community) with grace and perseverance. I’ve spent some time on the phone with my brother-in-law and later will help hang drywall at my sister’s home. All of this provides opportunities to affirm and disciple and maximize our relationships.
Jacob and Esau had tremendous strain in their relationship. So much so that Jacob was concerned about going home. However, God changed Jacob’s name and ultimately gave him confidence to meet his brother. The result was nothing short of amazing. May I encourage you that no matter the state of your extended family, God has placed you there to encourage their spiritual formation. Of course, in so doing, He will be forming you, and that’s the point of this blog: to explore all the ways God develops us spiritually. Take heart. Your next family reunion may be a divine appointment instead of a stressful disaster!