The Family Tree

Many years ago at one of our annual international conventions, Michael revved up a chain saw and began cutting the limbs off a tree he had brought onstage. The point of his illustration was that the devil likes to chop as many branches off the Family Tree as possible and stack them up as fire wood.

It was a powerful illustration and those who witnessed it still talk about it to this day. There is something about seeing the visual destruction of a tree that speaks louder than any words.

In recent years I have enjoyed tracing our family tree back in time. It is a fascinating hobby and I find I have to force myself to stop looking things up and tend to other pressing needs. Seeing how one family connects to another and then another and another never gets old for me. Plus, in the process I have discovered many amazing things about our ancestors. Finding each couple and then tracing their family members gives me a feeling of connectivity to the past and to the future.

In a Family Tree, each married couple is connected by a solid line and each of their children flow off their combined union. When a couple divorces, though, the solid line becomes a dotted line. To me it is an amazing visual of two people who are still connected through the passage of time but at the same time are separated.

I have also discovered that the further back in ancestry, the harder it is to determine which children came from which marriage. On one site they will be listed under one marriage and under another one on a different site. It is clear that each one of those dotted lines represents a family that was torn apart and the confusion of connectivity continued through the years.

I guess if we had a huge amount of space in which to store data and the ability to continue tracing backward, we would all eventually end up with Adam and Eve, our common parents. It makes me think of God’s original plan for marriage and family and how messed up it has gotten through the years. Society plays a big part in what people accept in families and time has eroded God’s plan from the thoughts of many.

Years ago divorce was an unacceptable answer to marital problems. The down side was that many times couples stayed together, but didn’t get the help they needed to have a vibrant, life-filled marriage. So through the years divorce became a more accepted solution until today when it is almost the expected thing to do when there are problems in a marriage.

Too many think that marriage is supposed to fulfill them or make them happy and when those expectations are not met, they see no other solution than to leave the marriage. And another branch is chopped from the tree.

Our hearts long to help couples see that God’s plan for marriage is exactly what most express in their wedding vows–a covenant relationship that remains strong until death. In many ways, that is an uphill battle in this day and age. Divorce has become easy and acceptable. Remarriage has become the predictable norm following the breakup of marriage. Children are shuffled between parents and often end up with step-parents at least once, if not more times than that.

How do we teach each new generation what God desires when at an ever increasing rate people are pursuing what they desire? It is now considered harsh and legalistic to tell people that divorce and remarriage are sin. I can’t count how many times we have been told that God wants people to be happy. That has always seemed strange to me coming from people who just told us how miserable marriage had made them.

Where does it stop? Where do we draw the line in the sand and say, No More? It begins with those who are willing to pay the price and to stand against modern thinking and easy grace. Drawing a line and holding it is not easy and many will work to push you off that stand. It will often make you feel you are swimming upstream as large groups pass you going in the opposite direction.

Yet here, on the face of the earth, there is a growing army of people who will not give in to social pressure and who will not just roll over and let the enemy chop off another limb from their Family Tree. You are the Hebrews 11 people, those who through the generations have stood on the Word of God and walked in faith. We salute you, brave warriors, and honor the choice you have made. Our prayers are with you for courage and strength to go the distance! Love, Marilyn

“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  Hebrews 11:3

Author: Marilyn Phillipps

Married 49 years, we have three children and six grandchildren. My initial career of nursing prepared me to work with marriages that are wounded and in need of healing. For 35 my husband and I have led 2=1 International, a ministry to marriages and families around the world. We have seen miracle after miracle when many had given up hope.

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