This question is one of the most common ones my husband is asked when people start to get to know him. If the subject of family comes up, it’s one of the first to be asked.
The irony behind it is that his family doesn’t even go to church anymore, let alone work at one! We sometimes smile or laugh or make a joke about it, but the truth is, I know it bothers Travis. I know he wishes that his parents (who are divorced, his mother is remarried and he counts his step-dad among his parents), sister, and her children went to church. We hear from them every time we talk about church, all of the excuses there are for them to not go.
In some ways it’s a good education for us. We don’t get to know a lot of unchurched people, being that most of our time is spent at church. We learn from them what it means to be a person who used to go to church but no longer does. Most of the reasons we hear boil down to people: Christians being hypocrits, the woman from that committee offended me, the pastor said things that bothered me, I don’t like the way they act, they aren’t being real Christians.
His mother is content with watching Charles Stanley on Sunday mornings. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but she is missing out on the community of believers and the support that such a Christian family can give. Part of the problem is the value in his family that you hold onto blood relatives and can let everyone else go. Part of it is the sinful nature of thinking we can do it all (believe me, I’m definitely not immune to that one!). And a large part of it involves a host of things that I am not aware of and probably never will be. That’s ok, because it’s not my job to know what they are thinking and feeling.
Every person is unique. While we all struggle with sin, temptation, and the desire to make our own rules (all of this is rebellion from God), the way we approach that is unique to each individual. Satan tailors the temptations to each person. I know that he intentionally put a handful of “hypocritical” Christians into my mother-in-law’s path, knowing that she would be angry enough at them to leave the church. I know he works with my clumsiness, knowing that I will probably let out a four-letter word when I stub my toe. But I also know that God is involved alone the way. He is working on my mother-in-law’s heart to lead her back to the fold. He works on me to convict me of my sinfulness and show me the changes I need to make, whether it’s watching my tongue (swearing and speaking in anger without thinking), spending time in His Word on a daily basis, or getting my butt out of the chair and doing something useful. Laziness is my biggest weakness in life, but His grace is sufficient for me.
Oh, to be free from these struggles. Not until heaven.