My experiences captured by the memorabilia in my family room have also greatly contributed to who I am and what I believe. On the wall over the piano, I have a favorite family portrait that was taken about seven years ago. Since then, three people in the picture—my mom and my in-laws—have died, and we have welcomed four wonderful new additions. In the corner is a large fireplace that makes a great atmosphere for our Christmas family get-togethers. The room has plush carpet that invites young and old to get on the floor to play with one another. There’s also a cuckoo clock that my wife brought back from Germany. We don’t have it cuckoo all the time—only when the kids and grandkids are there. Otherwise it would … well, it would drive us cuckoo. Beyond that, it constantly reminds us that time is moving.
Some might think that I would have a stronger Christian “testimony” if I had been raised by staunch atheists who prohibited any exposure to religion. It might even help if I had been a drug addict or spent some time in prison. I could then talk about how a miraculous, totally unexpected Christian conversion occurred in my adult life.
Unfortunately, that’s not me. I am the son of a Christian preacher. (That’s the primary reason I lived in a lot of different places growing up.) My mom, my grandparents, and my extended family—at least the ones I had any contact with—were also dedicated Christians. As a result, I am more like young Timothy in the New Testament. Speaking of him, St. Paul said, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5). Don’t infer, however, that I was always good or overly spiritual. After all, I was a preacher’s kid, and in my day, preacher’s kids were among the most rebellious and worldly. I wasn’t “bad”; I just wasn’t that “good.” For the most part, I just loved playing ball of any sort so that generally kept me out of trouble.
Over 40 years ago, I married a beautiful young lady who was an only child of two of the most Godly Christian people I have ever known. Her family was also Christian. Her parents were successful retail business people who were also constantly involved in preaching, teaching, and ministering in a Christian church. I frequently observed their Christian integrity in how they ran their business and treated their customers.
Today, my wife and I have three grown children and seven grandchildren. Our children and their spouses are all dedicated Christians who are trying their best to raise their children to love God and live a Christian way of life. Using our vocabulary, my wife and I are immensely “blessed.” Our family is very close. We love being together. We pray together. We enjoy life together.
My family connections not only partly explain why I initially adopted Christianity, they help to explain why I have remained a Christian. I have personally seen the Christian way of life put into practice. It’s not an easy way of life, but it works. I have witnessed genuine love that forgives; convictions that overcome moral failure; and hope that destroys despair.
Why would I ever give this up? If I didn’t have this kind of positive family experience but saw someone living in the Christian subdivision who did, I think I’d be curious enough to check out the possible connection.
Nonetheless, as important as this family room is for me, I realize that the basic Christian claims about God, Jesus, and all the rest are not true simply because Christianity, as a way of life, “works.” I believe it works because it is fundamentally true.