Thursday, January 12, 2006
When our kids were growing up, it was hard to find a ride at the amusement park you could get us all to ride. We have roller coaster lovers and roller coaster no-way-ers, for example. But there was one we all liked to do - the bumper cars. You know, those little electric cars inside that fenced-in area. They turn them on, and everyone starts out together, then you start speeding around that circle. Some end up spinning out, going backwards, going forward, intentionally or accidentally running into other cars - especially those you love. Each one of us would each get into our little hot rod. We'd basically start out heading the same direction, but in no time we were heading in five different directions and occasionally bumping into each other. Sound like any family you know?
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Bumper Car Families."
In the busyness and pressures of our lives today, that's what many families turn out to be - bumper car families. Oh, you may all start out the day in basically the same place, but then you take off in different directions and occasionally bump into each other. In fact, a lot of families are slowly but surely flying apart, with each one in their own personal world and increasingly strangers, living under the same roof. It was not meant to be that way when the Heavenly Father gave you to each other. But keeping a family together in a bumper car world doesn't just happen. It takes someone who plays a mean trumpet.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Nehemiah 4:19-20. God has called him to lead the Jews of his time in the amazing rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem - which were virtually totaled. Each person or group had a particular section they were responsible for. But Nehemiah knew that someone had to pull them together sometimes, too. "Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, 'The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall." Sort of a bumper car situation - everybody headed off in their direction, maybe bumping into each other occasionally. He says, "Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!" Nehemiah was a leader who insisted that his spread-out team come together sometimes! There was nothing about their work that would naturally bring them together. It actually took them different directions. But there was one person who made sure they got together!
That's what every family needs - someone who blows the trumpet to get that group of separated people together regularly. You have to set a time and place and make it happen. If it doesn't, people leave home with dangerous unmet needs that were supposed to be met at home; the need for closeness, for attention, for encouragement, for affection. And you have to be together for those needs to be met!
Biblically, it should be Dad who is the family Nehemiah. If you're a single mom, it needs to be you. In a two-parent family, this consistent huddle has to begin with the husband and wife spending that kind of time. Without a regular huddle, they'll start taking the family two different directions. If you're a son or daughter, work for together time with your parents, support the trumpeter when he or she tries to get you to spend some time together. Make it dinner together, prayer together, family time with Jesus, pre-committed days to be together - days no one else can have, trips together, or make a difference projects together.
Don't let your home degenerate into every person for himself or herself where family members are increasingly strangers and people are home, but home alone even with others around. It takes work to get in the middle of your family's speeding bumper cars and say, "Pull over everybody! We need some time together!" But that work is worth it. The alternative will end up costing you way too much.