“The greatest thing we can give to others around us is a strong family unit — a family where love flourishes, where self-esteem
and esteem for others abounds, where morals are firm, and where discipline is a way of life.”
While taking a college class in Sociology, I first heard a well-known statement about the family that would shape much of my thinking about family life in later years. My professor said, “The family is the root of all society.”
He explained to us that the condition of a society is generally determined by the condition of the families in that society. As a seventeen-year-old young lady, I learned something very important and basic about the family, yet I did not understand fully the magnitude of this truth. As I became older and more involved with other people, this principle became more evident to me. My generation has seen the family evolve in a dramatic way — so dramatic that it has left many of us almost numb. The typical family of today is so different from the typical family of the 1950’s and 60’s that the two bear only faint resemblance to one another. Yes, society is also markedly different today.
It is a reflection of what our families have become. Families at one time were more stable than they are now. Husband and wife stayed together in marriage more often then than now. Children more often respected their parents. Parents were more often available to train and nurture their children. Families in the past did more activities together. Sure, these families weren’t perfect — no family was or is — but more often then than now, their children became a positive force in society. What a difference a few decades make! Now, a marriage that remains after ten years is considered a success. In most families, respect for parents, for siblings, and for others is out the door. Children more frequently learn their values from the television than from their parents. Everybody now does “their own thing” rather than do things together as a family.
Who is taking the time to educate, nurture, care for, give moral instruction to, and just plain be there for the children?
To whom does the child turn for encouragement, support, and guidance? More and more frequently, no one is there for the children. Consequently, we have a society where there is no respect for authority or for anyone else. There is little respect for life. There is a fuzzy boundary between right and wrong. Many children are exposed to adult situations that they are not ready to handle, but no one is there to restrain them. Many well- meaning parents, filled with guilt because of the state of their homes, do not deny their children anything.
They feel they make up for their absence by allowing the children to do anything they want, watch anything they please, eat anything they desire, and act in any way they see fit! Our society suffers greatly for this. Now, as a mature woman, the idea of the family as the root of our society is so clear to me, and it burdens my heart!
Oh, but I am thankful for the families that want to make a difference! I am thankful for families that buck the lifestyle trends of today, for these few families keep our society from complete ruin.
The greatest thing we can give to others around us is a strong family unit — a family where love flourishes, where self-esteem and esteem for others abounds, where morals are firm, and where discipline is a way of life. Most of these solid families are Christian families. I have seen a few nonreligious families that maintain high ideals, and these are a definite help to society. Still, the Christian home has the help of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through the influence of the Holy Spirit, our homes can be demonstrations of how He can fill our lives with joy, peace, and power.
Through His creative activity in our lives, the Lord provides for our needs and the needs of our families. Before the Lord creates anything, He provides the necessary ingredients to sustain it. That is the basis for all His creative acts.
Before God created life on this planet, He provided light on the first day and air and water on the second day. Plant and animal life could not exist without light, air and water. The cycles of night and day that He provided were also necessary for the existence and well-being of plant and animal life.
God’s provision of the sun, moon and stars gave us the means to measure the passage of time, a necessity for our lives we often take for granted. The sun also gave this earth warmth in addition to light. Plant life was designed to sustain animal life, and animal life in turn sustains plant life.
“I am so grateful for the seventh day. It is that day that has allowed us to rejuvenate our relationships with the Lord, our spouses, and our children.”
Not only did God provide the physical and chemical ingredients to sustain life on this planet, but God also provided the necessary ingredients to sustain humanity physically, mentally, socially, morally, and spiritually. He gave our early parents the job of managing His creation so that they could be sustained physically and mentally. He provided each with a companion of the opposite sex, very much like each other in some ways and very different in other ways, so that their social needs could be fulfilled. Through the man and the woman, God provided not only the way for children to be brought into this world but also for the moral and spiritual instruction of these children. And on the seventh day, God provided the Sabbath. When my husband was in medical school, the Sabbath was eagerly awaited by both of us. He did not have to think about medicine, and I did not have to think about teaching my second grade students. We could concentrate completely on each other and, in the process, strengthen our marriage. Worship on Sabbath was a highlight. It was a time when, hand in hand, we reconsecrated ourselves to the Lord and to each other. It was a time when we asked forgiveness from each other and that forgiveness was granted. We used those Sabbath hours to refresh ourselves so that we could begin a new week with a clean slate.
Seventeen years later, we now have a thirteen-year-old boy and eleven-year-old twins. The Sabbath is still the highlight of the week. Free from the hustle and bustle of life, we can concentrate on God, on ourselves, and on our children. The Sabbath is a day to renew our commitment to strengthen our home. I am so grateful for the seventh day. It is that day that has allowed us to rejuvenate our relationships with the Lord, our spouses, and our children. My mind is filled with warm memories of Sabbaths I spent with my family when I was a child. The impact of these Sabbath memories became apparent to me after my first week of college. During that week, I was nervous, scared, and excited. Every day was a new experience. The new people I met were interesting and the classes were challenging. I was so busy that I hardly had time to think about my family.
When Friday arrived and my classes were over for the week, I felt that first wave of homesickness.
By the time evening came and the Sabbath hours had arrived, I was an emotional mess. My mind kept taking me back home. I knew what was going on at home. My family had just finished having supper. Every Friday evening, my mother always made soup. I could smell and taste that soup. I could see my family singing around the piano. I could hear the talking and the laughter as my family gathered together during the first hours of the Sabbath. I saw these scenes clearly in my mind because I had lived them, Sabbath after Sabbath, year after year. These activities were traditions, established by my family years before. The Sabbath gives an opportunity to create meaningful family traditions. These traditions will bring you back home when you are away. I was at college, but in my mind, I was at home, enjoying my family.
Traditions do not just happen. We have to make them happen. For my family, I build many of my traditions around the Sabbath. I have soup for supper every Friday evening. We also enjoy rice, tortillas, popsicles and popcorn. Our children suggested the popsicles and popcorn as additions to our Friday evening routine.
We eat every Friday supper by candlelight. I also have candles glowing throughout the family room and soft music playing in the background. After supper, we enjoy family time. My husband and I try to be available for the children. We can talk, sing, read, play a Bible game, or have a question and answer session.
I use my nice plates, glasses and flatware for the Sabbath meal after church. We often plan an activity for the family during the afternoon. It is very important for us to develop in our children a love for the Sabbath. We do not want them to be bored or to dread the Sabbath hours. Planning for these hours takes some creativity, but the benefits to our children are worth every effort.
We can do several things to remind our children of how special the Sabbath is. On Friday morning, I put out our best bedspreads. These spreads tell them of the special hours that lie ahead. Several of my friends place fresh flowers on the dining table. Others make pizza or spaghetti for Friday night supper. Others use paper plates. It doesn’t matter what you do. Everybody, in any way, should establish their own traditions.
These traditions will stay with your children when they leave the home someday. They will be one of the things that will keep your children observing the Sabbath when they are older. The Sabbath will have become meaningful to them. It will be a reminder of happy times spent with the family. I am grateful for the opportunities the Sabbath brings for the enrichment of the family. If parents are truly committed to the family, the Sabbath can become their best resource for a happy family life.
One major principle must be borne in mind, however. The Sabbath will only be as important to your family as it is to you.
The parents have the responsibility to demonstrate in word and deed the importance of the Sabbath to them and to the family. If the Sabbath means nothing to you, it will not mean anything to your loved ones. If the Sabbath is just a regular day with the exception of attending church, it will become exactly that to your children. If you find joy, renewal and excitement during the Sabbath hours, your children will also share that experience.
For those who desire a fulfilling Sabbath experience, we have the same promise as Israel of old:
“The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought. And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” Isaiah 58: 11, 12 (NKJV)
As we devote careful and prayerful thought to the Sabbath, may we find it to be the fountain of happiness for the family that it is. May we find in it a clearer glimpse of the love of Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath.
This article first came out in El Centinela July 1995 published by Pacific Press
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