Sojourners and exiles

Some folks were having a silly conversation today about having a “multi-generational” for your family. Specifically, they were joking about using this idea to convince some people to move into our area. We all laughed, because it was a totally spurious argument and we all knew it.

But it made me think about something.

“Multi-generation faithfulness” is something of a catchphrase in the circles I move in. It’s referring to having a vision for your family that extends beyond your life: a vision that includes ongoing covenant faithfulness to God as your family grows and expands. To be clear, I’m not against this. I desire for my children’s grandchildren to be strong in the faith; yes, even stronger than me.

But I wonder if sometimes that vision of multi-generational faithfulness can sometimes turn into something else. We dream of having our extended family living near us, being able to help teach our grandchildren or even our great-grandchildren. We imagine the large family gatherings on special occasions.

All good things, to be sure. But none of those things are actually necessarily connected to “multi-generational faithfulness”. I wonder if sometimes our vision for our families can sometimes turn into something idolatrous.

A common Biblical image for the Christian is one of a wanderer. Peter addresses his audiences as “sojourners and exiles” in 1 Peter 2:11. The author of Hebrews says that “…we have no lasting city” (Hebrews 13:14)

God blesses some families for their faithfulness by allowing them to be gathered together. God blesses other families for their faithfulness by scattering them to the four winds, carrying the seeds of faith with them.

I love my children, and I deeply desire that they will be near me as I grow older. I want them to be around when my grandchildren are born. I want to be able to sit at the head of the table at one of those large family gatherings.

But I’ve already given up some of those dreams by moving to Peoria. Because God blessed my parents’ faithfulness by taking three of their children and sending them far from home.

I quoted a portion of Hebrews 13:14 earlier. Let me quote the whole thing now:

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

There is a coming reality, where we will no longer be scattered, where we will all be together for the huge family gathering. The goal of our families’ faithfulness is to raise up children that we will see at that family meal. Any other gatherings that happen before that are merely icing on the cake.

Or, to quote the Rich Mullins song that I was listening to this evening:

Let mercy lead
Let love be the strength in your legs
And in every footprint that you leave
There’ll be a drop of grace
If we can reach
Beyond the wisdom of this age
Into the foolishness of God
That foolishness will save
Those who believe
Although their foolish hearts may break
They will find peace
And I’ll meet you in that place
Where mercy leads

“Let Mercy Lead”, Rich Mullins


2 responses to “Sojourners and exiles

  • Pastor James McDonald

    As one who has seen some of my arrows leave the quiver and fly to distant lands, and as one who is about see another fly, I really appreciate your words, Brother Ben-Ezra.

  • Adiel

    This is a beautiful thought and one I try to hold on to when I’m feeling rather alone here in PA. But I still think it’s okay to say (as I said to Pastor McDonald just today, oddly enough) it really stinks to be far away from family.

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