Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be he firstborn among many brothers.
Kenny and I had a very interesting and moving experience this past Friday. We went to a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery near our nation's capital. The man being honored had been a Commander in the Navy. I'd like to share some reflections from this experience for the next few days. First of all, there was such a sense of family. There was assigned to the widow a young soldier to escort her in and out of the service and to attend to her needs. The young man was very kind and gentle as he escorted her in and out, prior to the service and then during it, speaking with her in loving attention, as if he were her own grandson. The chaplain--I don't imagine that he actually knew the commander personally, but don't know for sure about that--spoke of the Commander with great honor and had taken great effort to know about him personally. There were other soldiers who participated in various parts of the service, in bringing in and out the ashes of the deceased and a United States flag. And when the service was concluded, there awaited a horse drawn wagon with a casket draped in our flag, escorted to the place of burial. The band of musicians followed the wagon, playing as they marched. A rifled infantry stood at attention during the graveside as a gun salute was offered and as a bugle sang out taps. All of this seemed more than just a ritual; there was a sense of family. Even though these other soldiers probably hadn't known the Commander they were honoring, they embraced him and his family as their own family. This wasn't just another body added to the many in this place. No, they were welcoming a member of the family into their resting place.
Are we not soldiers in the army of the Lord? And are we not all part of the family of God? The Lord speaks of us as such all through the Bible, especially as His children, and Him being our Father. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1). We were privileged to know an outstanding believer in Rocky Mount named Seabury Thorpe, who had a great vision for our city. He looked at all the various churches in our community and thought how sad that we have so many "brothers and sisters in the Lord" that we don't even know or fellowship with. And so for a time, he worked with a group of pastors in our area who began meetings periodically called The Gathering of Believers, in which all the churches partnered together in a time of worship, fellowship, and the sharing of a message. In the early church, we don't see little individual churches; we see the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, etc. Kenny and I have been blessed to be able to go into so many different groups all over our nation and find beautiful brothers and sisters. For we are indeed, a family of faith. But we don't have to travel far to find brothers and sisters. They may be in the grocery store or in our work places or so many other everyday places we may find ourselves. How can we reach out to others in the faith and experience this thing called family? Lord, open our hearts and our arms to others. We are not alone. God sets the lonely in families. . . (Psalm 68:6). Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:5, 6 KJV).
Blessings, brothers and sisters!