Adapted with permission from "Weavings: A Journal of Christian Spiritual Life."With the eldest of our four children only fifteen, we cannot predict what our house of faith will look like in the future. And we certainly can't say that our style of landscaping or taste in furnishings should be de rigueur for the church. God surely has broad tastes in spiritual home design. But we will describe the foundation of our home and the framework we're trying to put into place. The decorative choices in our household of faith are not nearly as important as the strength and durability of the inner structure. Your house probably will not look like our house. Yet by grace, sharing similar frameworks, our various households may give a weary world a glimpse of the dwellings that will adorn the streets of the new heavens and the new earth.As we reflected on our years together for this article, we identified three commitments that comprise the foundation of our household. These have given rise to a framework of values and choices that characterize our life as a family. Paul writes of "the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone" (Eph. 2:19-20). Our life together begins with a bedrock commitment to "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Deep within us, by grace, is a fundamental orientation to the God who has come to us in Jesus Christ. Individually and together, we see this as the heart of the universe and of our lives personally. Before we were married, God brought us both to what our Presbyterian Book of Order calls "faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and acceptance of his Lordship in all of life." Nowadays, such shared commitment and similar faith may be rare. We recognize what a mercy it is. Yet having been gifted with belief, we know we are called to build daily upon Christ. And we share a trust that we are each building on this same foundation.The next layer fitted directly to this cornerstone is a radical commitment to each other. Years ago, we passionately declared (though we couldn't imagine all it would mean), "I am for you." The words came easily in the flush of youthful beginnings. Yet we have come to see that bringing these words into the world is the masterwork of a lifetime, to be forged on the anvil of hourly choices that move us, year by aging year, toward each other and not away. The vow to be together for the length of days given to us is enacted in a moment-by-moment fresh choosing of one another. When something comes between us, our commitment calls us to remove the barrier. This discipline is vital to ensuring that what is built will endure.From this vision flows the third foundational commitment, which is to our children. We hope that they absolutely take for granted the love of God that has given rise to our love for each other and that is poured out upon them through us. Our desire is that in these formative years secure, accepting love is so much a part of the atmosphere of our household that they think of it the way we think of air-we just live in it. We hope there is a sense in our family that it is better to be together than apart. Within the home, we share our griefs and joys, frustrations and dreams among those who will listen and care. While activities and responsibilities may draw us away, we always return, and thrive when we are close.We want to be with our children, and we communicate to them that they are not a burden or a nuisance but rather the very ones for whom we live. They are who we spend our time with. This commitment of hours has limited our adult pursuits, but generally we have made peace with that. Our struggle is with a culture that offers so many activities that families can be on the go every moment. We feel the tug of these opportunities and expectations but have made deliberate efforts to resist. Our children certainly are engaged in activities outside the home, but we strive to place boundaries around the use of our time. When the "good things" we are doing pull us apart, we make an effort to pull in and redirect the flow of our family so that we can be together more. Our belief is that this gathering love actually creates the security that makes mature departure possible.
From the foundation of these commitments to God, to each other, and to the children, a framework of values arises. On this structure, we place the expression of our values in the choices we make. Of course, we fail routinely and share with others the parental fear that we may cause harm or simply miss the mark. With awareness that inconsistency and imperfection are constant companions, we offer these priorities:
WorshipCorporate worship is the essence of Christian faith. We do not underestimate what it means for young children to sit with their parents in worship. That may be the one hour each week when mother and father are not on the run, not working, but just there sitting close to loved ones in God's presence. Our hope is that being in church on Sunday morning will be such a part of the structure of our household that it will carry over to the time when our children build their own households.