As I read through the Bible, once again the well known friendship between David and Jonathan was fresh to me. Jonathan was the king's son, the next one in line for the rulership of his nation and David the beloved soldier who killed Goliath, who was anointed king by God. One should expect jealousy in Jonathan's heart but, there was love, compassion and justice.
1 Samuel 18:1-3 (NIV)
1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
1 Samuel 23:16-18 (NIV)
16 And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 "Don't be afraid," he said. "My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this." 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.
I tried to thank all our friends back home via email, newsletters and in a blog, but words just seem to fall short in acknowledging who they are and what they do. May our prayers of blessing follow them and all the new friends we have made on this trip :
Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)
24"'The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."
This whole trip was taken due to the relationships we had amongst each other. Special, unique, loving, respectful...but not perfect. Since 30 Dec 2008 our relationship grew even more, became more special, more unique, more loving, more respectful...but unfortunately remains "not perfect".
James 3:2 (NIV)
2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man..."
So what works for us? Spending time together, honesty, open communication channels, regular "house meetings", forgiveness asked and given, soft hearts, shared responsibility, quiet time with the Lord, following only Jesus example, God's written Word, being real (not trying to be over spiritual or faked holy), being ourselves, giving room for our diversity, God's nature, more exercise, experiencing God's wonderful creation, praying together, going through conflict with an expectation that God will bring something good from it, making new friends together, visiting churches where God was present, staying focused to agreed upon goals, etc. to mention a few.
What about the imperfect part? The only things I can think of are negative assumptions and selfishness...that is not working and never will....not for us and also not for any other family!
Genesis 1:26-28 (NIV)
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Malachi 2:15-16 (NIV)
15 Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 16 "I hate divorce," says the Lord God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the Lord Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.
God's plan for this world runs through the family. The restoration and well being of this well thought through strategy should be high on any government, business and church leadership's agenda. I quote one of out great leaders:
Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)
14 "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
To follow God's plan will bring His blessings forth:
Psalm 1 (NIV)
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Psalm 127 (NIV)
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 128 (NIV)
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord. 5 May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, 6 and may you live to see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel.
All I can add is AMEN!
Yesterday was fathers day...we celebrated it here in Canada, two hours from Toronto, in a cabin by a lake. It was one of the best days of my life. The three sons gave handmade presents, written and verbal notes...precious. But to prove my point I made above they also gave me a special present: their mother had to sauna with me for an hour and thereafter swim in the lake with clothes of their (the boys) choice...guess what they have chosen...and their mother and I enjoyed it more than words can express!
I will share on this third (or first) part of my slogan faith, family and friends, on a separate blog.
Let me conclude this blog on family and friends with what one of the wisest men who walked planet earth said:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.