Normal life for many families, Christian or not, can be pretty chaotic. Parents and children are separated for the majority of the day at school and work, and the endless list of other activities (athletic practices, rehearsals, tutoring, etc.) cut into the remaining hours. When they are finally at home, sadly much of that time is spent staring at electronic screens, even when the requisite homework and household chores are done. Little time is actually spent in personal interaction, communication, shared life, relationship building, and for Christian families, discipleship.
When our kids were younger, and all four were still in the home, life was quite busy, as you can imagine. Our kids certainly had lives outside of the home and church, including baseball games too numerous to count, and music rehearsals and performances. In an attempt to capture the season of life before the chicks started flying the coop, one of the things Kristen and I implemented in our home was Forced Family Fun, or FFF as it affectionately became known. Ok, full disclosure, it was not “affectionately known” at the start. But after a little while FFF became less forced and more fun. There was less eye rolling and heavy sighing, and a genuine willingness by all to participate. Taking turns, each family member got to choose which game we would play or movie we would watch, and all were forced to participate. No one could go off to their room because it wasn’t the movie they chose or the game they wanted to play. Their turn would come, but for now they had to suck it up and join in.
The current pandemic, and the related Safe at Home order, may have unintentionally given Christian families an opportunity for time together that they otherwise would not have. Let’s not waste this opportunity with endless program-streaming, series-binging, screen-facing, and otherwise reality-averting activities, that a year from now will have added little richness of our lives.
My encouragement, especially to those moms and dads out there with children in the home, is to have a plan. Talk and pray together about what you’re going to do with this time. How much time should be “free” and how much should be structured activity or family time.
And if I may be so bold, my encouragement is especially for dads. You are the pastors of your homes. Reject the tendency of our flesh to be passive, to let mom do it. Now is a time to lead, model, and demonstrate faith, namely, lead when we don’t feel like it. Lead by the power of the Holy Spirit which powerfully dwells within you, when the flesh says, “I just want to veg out and watch The Mandalorian.” Take an hour to play a game, go on a walk, do a craft, read a book, tell a story of your childhood, or read a Bible story and pray together. If you have the yard for it, plant a garden. The seeds you plant now will bear fruit, or flowers, later in the summer and fall when, Lord willing, life is back to normal. This can provide an excellent visual aid for talking about sowing and reaping!
By the way, leading doesn’t mean that you need to have family devotions all the time. Family devotions are wonderful, and I would encourage you to have them, but if this is the only time you lead they may actually be counterproductive. If family devotions are the only time you lead, or talk about spiritual things, you communicate that Christianity is something only devoted to certain places and certain times. Check it off the list and get back to real life. It also communicates that Jesus only interests you as a project, not as the Person who occupies the greatest place of affection in your heart.
The Gospel Coaltion recently posted an article by Chap Bettis called, 6 Ways to Lead your Family in Isolation. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/lead-your-family-in-isolation/
These days, as difficult as they may be, have been ordained by our Sovereign Lord from eternity past. Truly, these are the days that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in them!