2009 Photo by Lambert Wolterbeek Muller, flickr

The morning after Linda and I spent the night with the homeless, our responsibility was to ensure that both families got off by 7:00 AM. That meant we carried car seats out – and I actually ended up carrying one pre-schooler out who was still sound asleep – at about 6:30 AM. It was cold that morning, too, so car windows had to be defrosted and scraped on top of everything else involved in the morning routine.

That all got Linda and me talking when we got home later that morning. We both remembered how difficult those days of diapers and diaper bags, car seats and crying kids were for us. That was years ago for us now, yet we still remember those days as “hard” – but we were a “stable, two-parent home,” we lived in our own house, and, though finances always feel tight, we’ve never been in danger of being evicted. We talked about all this over flavored coffee we’d brewed in our own coffee-maker in our kitchen, with our white picket fence literally forming the background to our conversation out our back window.

Jesus talks about the Kingdom being like a treasure or rare piece of jewelry that, once someone finds it, they’ll give up everything to get. But what if you’d inherited that rare piece of jewelry, and wore it every day.  After a while, wouldn’t you just sort of take it for granted, and forget about just how valuable it is?    

Linda and I were both raised in strong Christian homes. Likewise, our three boys grew up in a home where love and commitment to one another, and to God, has just never been in question.

I don’t want to paint an overly idyllic picture here. I like to tease friends and family way too much. Linda and I have had more than one spat over who gets the remote. And, I remember one whiffle ball game ending with one of the boys throwing the bat at his brother.  But that’s about the height of the conflict we’ve experienced in our home.

It would be, literally, unimaginable for our family to contemplate, much less face, the kind of instability, challenge and lack of resources experienced by the single-parent homeless families we spent that one night with.

In reflecting on that, part of what I realize is: the benefits and blessings that God often gives to His people are rich and deep, but can be kind of subtle, too – like the family heirloom a woman wears everyday of her life since high school but that turns out to be worth thousands of dollars, which no one suspected until the estate sale revealed its real worth after she died or something.

Linda and I are now in, well, late middle age. We have three boys, the youngest of which will soon be driving – the other two have grown and left the house already. But all three, and our daughter-in-law, too, clearly love us and love the Lord. Not only do we love one another, we enjoy one another.  And, for Linda and me, “happily married” is not just a cliché.

And, we realize, when we think about it – which we too often don’t – that this is precious and rare. And that so, so many people would give all that they have to enjoy what we simply take for granted. And that what is truly valuable is too often traded for something shinier, maybe, but counterfeit.

Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical.  He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention.  Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons.  See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/todd-mangum.

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