It dawned on me over the weekend as I continued to expect to see our Australian Shepherd around the house, that I really depended on that dog for many things. Chief among those things was her watchful eye over my wife. They had a special connection from day one. I’ve told the story many times of how it was Piper that spotted the dog at the shelter and then convinced the owners of our rental house to allow us to have a dog in the home. From that point on, Mandie was a Momma’s dog!
I had been wanting to mow the front lawn over the weekend and in planning the activity, the recent loss of the dog hit home again. In the past when I have mowed the large lawn I have been content leaving Piper and the dog on the porch as I KNEW that the dog would let me know if a problem arose, as she had many times in the past. That is when the truth of how much I depended on the dog to be another set of eyes around the house came to mind! I suddenly became painfully aware that an important part of me was missing!
I also had a personal revelation about another part of me that had gone AWOL when I was studying from Philippians 3:4-6 this weekend. In this portion of scripture Paul is talking about his personal qualifications when it came to his religious upbringing and training and the prestige and leadership amenities that should come with it. As I read this and thought of other scriptures where he talks about his background, I understood that the Apostle Paul did not repudiate his rich heritage as an orthodox Jew. In fact, he valued both his Jewish blood as well as his Roman citizenship.
That got me to thinking about how I tended to disregard my personal background for many years throughout our marriage and family life. As I have mentioned before, soon after we got married I went into Protestant Christian ministry and never looked back. My entire family on the other hand was Catholic and didn’t always understand the direction I took… and I never really did anything to help alleviate that division.
But I suddenly realized over the weekend, that in my quest for spiritual growth, I had listened to the lie that I just didn’t fit in with them anymore. Then I understood what Paul was attempting to convey to his readers. I believe that he was trying to show us that being a Christian didn’t separate him from his personal history. On the contrary, it completed him and rounded out who he was! All of us come with a unique heritage, a personalized combination of physical, social, family, ethnic, religious, educational and experiential backgrounds. When we place Jesus Christ at the head of that grouping, He rounds us out and completes who we are!
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time then you know our story about our return home to California after my Bible College years in Oklahoma. One of the goals that the Lord had given us was to reconnect with our network of family and friends for support in our battle with my wife’s health needs. What I expected to happen though… did not! While I expected us to fall back into our old circle of life, we received a rude awakening as most of what we left behind three years before was different when we returned.
As it turns out, it was mainly my family that immediately circled the wagons around Piper and I and reached out to us with incredible acts of love and personal involvement in our needy situation. Even though it has been about six years now, I can clearly remember sitting at the kitchen table early one morning during my study time at our little cluster home in Santa Rosa and hearing that small still voice telling me to let go of the past and those who I thought would help and go with those who had been unselfishly reaching out to us.
Today I was reminded of the lemon tree we had on the patio in that house that was literally eaten to the bare stem by rats who would come out at night for dinner at our place! I had to trim the once thriving plant down to its roots, highly care and fertilize it and then protect it from the marauding pests so it could come back to a fruitful state again. And my diligence paid off as within a view months new branches sprung forth and we actually had some delicious Meyers Lemons that summer! When we moved out here I gave the plant to my brother and he recently reported that they are getting ready to transplant it to a larger container and that it is producing magnificently!
Like that lemon bush, it seems that I too had to go back to my roots in order to grow anew from the hard place we had been in. I am now in regular communication with my brother and sister and cousins. I have one cousin that is like the family historian and is constantly refreshing my memory of past events from our childhood and other cousins as well, with whom we all share gardening and cooking tips with. Family, gardening, cooking and even our family pets are all special “loves” that our big Italian family has always enjoyed together. It is a major part of who I am… It is like my other half! What I have noticed over these last six years is that I am feeling more complete and confident in who I am… than I ever did in years past!
My family is a major part that my Christianity completes and fortifies the unique me for the roles and plans our heavenly Father has for me. Have you ever looked at your family background in that regard? Maybe it is time for a new outlook on your life and time to accept who you are, where you are from and how God wants to use that special combination for the furtherance of His kingdom on the earth! Your life is a special gift to those around you that you affect and infect for Him!
Have a wonderful week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How am I expecting my unique background to complete and fortify my Christian service today?”