Welcome – With Rules…
Our daughter, Kristin, and her family have made a decision to downsize their home and so several months ago their house went on the market and sold rather quickly. She and the rest of the family found another home that, unfortunately, failed to pass inspection. So… although they found another home, they are between houses for two or three weeks and had no where to go in the meantime. Guess what? They wanted to stay with us – all five of them…
Now before I go on, I should say that that when my father got out of the Army after World War II, and married my mother, it was very difficult to find a place to stay. They couldn’t afford a house and apartments were being snapped up in Chicago as soon as they came on the market. My grandfather approached my Dad and let him know that no home was big enough for two families – therefore, Dad and Mom were NOT welcome to stay with my grandparents until something came up on the market that they could afford.
I have heard this story all my life so it put me in alert mode when Kristin accepted our invitation to stay here. But in all honesty, I don’t know where else they would go. I imagine that a hotel was out of the question as they had to stay within close proximity to the schools and we did let our other daughter, Jill, and her son Drew stay with us for several months while they were buying a home earlier this summer.
So… Kristin, Chip and the three boys all moved in last Sunday evening. We gave them the four extra bedrooms upstairs to use as well as the lower level that has a large family room area and a complete second kitchen that we use for entertaining during the summer months. Meanwhile, Janet and I occupy the main floor and spend a lot of time in our hearth room, a small space where we watch TV while enjoying the fireplace when we are a little chilly.
Now every family runs differently. I am a clean freak and one of those guys who knows that there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place. I’m not convinced that Kristin and her family believe the same thing… I pick up my clothes, keep things neat and organized – and enjoy tranquility. That’s not exactly the order of the day these weeks! But, and this is important, things are going better than I expected.
That’s probably because we laid down some ground rules before anybody moved in. Things like no food is to be left around the house, beds are to be made, don’t take possessions of others without seeking permission first and several other things that all have to do with respecting others and their property.
The Bible is full of stories like ours. In some cultures, generations of families lived together for long periods of time and I even know of a friend locally who have had their son’s family living with them for almost three years.
I lived with my grandmother for a summer back in 1972 after my grandfather died. And my great aunt lived with my grandparents for 40 years after her own parents died – she never did get married. But none of these situations worked without an understanding of the rules. For example, I knew that when I went to grandpa’s house I had to ask before using his personal tools in the workshop. And when I was done using a tool, it had to be returned to the place that it came from.
Maybe this concept is foreign to others but it is also the way that God presented the ten commandments and other rules/regulations present in the Old Testament. The Israelites, the chosen people, were to obey the laws of God. That is, until the new covenant when Jesus issued a new commandment.
That’s because the Old Testament, including the “Law”, were there to prove that mankind couldn’t be totally obedient to what God expected from His people. The crucifixion and resurrection changed all that. Because Jesus issued a new commandment – to love one another. But notice that whether it was the old or new covenant, there were still rules and regulations – just different in tone and substance. In our verse for the evening, the author of Hebrews tells us that the new covenant replaces the older ones. We are told in Hebrews 8:13, “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”
Jesus also told us, through the apostle John and his recorded word of Jesus, in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
My encouragement this evening is to affirm that God isn’t against rules and regulations. He does, however, expect love to win the day! My prayer is that we will honor and respect one another and understand that we live by a code of conduct that is in addition to the love that we are to show one another! And that is the case in our home as well as we navigate two families under one roof – at least for the next several weeks. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…