“Mom she’s touching me! She stuck her tongue out at me.” “Ow! She hit me! Well she spit on me!”
My wife Donna and I went to Yellowstone Park last weekend to celebrate our 32nd anniversary.
We love the park, winter or summer, and have been there many times, from our honeymoon on. It’s our backyard after all–just over a few mountains.
Too bad we have to share it with the rest of the world.
But, then again, that’s part of what makes it so unique. I always love seeing people experience it for the first time, we can start to take it for granted so it’s good to see it through the eyes of others sometimes.
We took a snowcoach into Old Faithful and there was a young couple in our coach who had a couple of kids—8 year old twins; a boy and a girl. They were very well behaved but they were still kids and kept their parents on their toes, especially walking around the geyser basins where you have to stay on the boardwalks, out of the boiling water and away from the buffalo.
Of course this reminded Donna and I of the many times we took our girls to the park. Keeping three little girls from getting lost, gored, boiled or eaten was always a challenge, as was keeping them from killing each other after too many hours in the car.
At one point last weekend as Donna was laughing to herself at the antics of our 8 year old companions she said, just loud enough for me to hear; “No hitting, no spitting, no fighting no biting.” She was quoting the Swaningson family rule that our girls now know well. This rule was actually born on one our trips to the Park when the girls were young, no doubt after the umpteenth squeal of “Mom she’s touching me! She stuck her tongue out at me.” “Ow! She hit me! Well she spit on me!”
If you’ve ever been a road trip with more than one child in the car you know what I mean, right? Finally in exasperation, somewhere between Canyon Village and Yellowstone Lake I declared, in what Donna refers to as my scary dad voice, which always became the final answer— “No hitting no spitting, no fighting no biting!”
It’s that simple. Follow that rule and we’ll all get along and have a great trip, and life for that matter.
I don’t think I had intended it to be a rhyme but it turned out that way and turned out it pretty much covered all the basics and was fun to say, so it eventually turned into a joke, a joke with meaning, because I meant it and more importantly, it was not a suggestion, it was the law. ‘If you are a part of this family, those things will not be tolerated.’ And what’s left? Respect, kindness, patience, gentleness—love.
It’s quite simple, abide in the rules, abide in Daddy’s word, and you will continue to abide in this family as a happy camper.
Now, I would be tempted to say here of this family rule, that it was— “Abide by the rules—’No hitting, no spitting, no fighting, no biting.’, And you can continue to abide in this family!”—but that’s not entirely true. Nor is it true of the Family of God. We are not children of God, we are not brothers and sisters, by virtue of having kept all the rules. We are family by blood, and love–the blood of Jesus and the love of the Father.
My girls know now, and they knew then, that they will always be a part of the family, the Swaningson family. ‘This is the family that gave you your name and your genetic makeup. The family abides in you, it’s in your blood, it’s in your DNA and you carry the name.’
‘You cannot make me stop loving you, and you cannot make me stop caring for you, but if you want to be at peace in this family, if you want to be trusted and enjoy the blessings of a real relationship with me, and others in this family, you need to abide by the rule.’
The rules make the family a safe place. A place where we can abide in love.
Our family rules were condensed into one easy to remember principle. So is the word of God—all the rules handed down from generation to generation, as revealed in great specificity to make sure we had no excuses to do harm to one another, were boiled down and condensed into one easy to remember all encompassing rule, a new command that could only be given by the Word of God become flesh, the only Son of the one true God and that is “love one another as I have loved you.”
Do that and you will be abiding in my word, my word abiding in you and you will have my joy abiding, remaining, in you.
What a promise; just, love.
Here’s what the Holy Spirit told me as I was working on this message:
Abide in me as I abide in you, and your love will never fail. Do not grow weary, just love, keep on loving, never stop loving.
When in doubt, love. When in doubt, receive love.
Abide in love. Let the Holy Spirit bear witness to your Spirit that you are loved. That’s what that anointing that John talks about is, (“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.” 1 john 2:10) it’s the Holy Spirit telling us that he is in us, that Jesus is Lord and that he loves us. It is our salvation and our joy, our hope and our strength. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee.
Which brings us once again to the key verse of my recent blogs, and the core principle behind the Apostle John’s writings, the one thing he desires more than anything for us to do, as those who love and are loved by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
1 John 3:18
No hitting no spitting, no fighting, no biting. Wouldn’t the church be a wonderful place if we all abided by this?
And if you look deep inside where the Holy Spirit resides, (If you have invited him to do so) you’ll know that it is true that you are loved— Jesus loves me…. And you cannot make him stop loving you.
Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief !