This year, I spent Thanksgiving week with people who, ten years ago, were complete strangers to me. Today, I call them family.
They came with my wife. When she became part of my world, so did more than a dozen in-laws and (at last count) roughly a billion nieces and nephews.
When we’re all together, it’s a special kind of crazy that I wouldn’t trade for anything—little feet thundering across the floor in nomadic herds, sallying forth to complete a quest of utmost importance; meaningful conversations about the things that matter; heads thrown back in laughter at a silly little inside joke or shared memory. It’s a smorgasbord of interaction, as exciting as it is exhausting.
I love it.
I’m a transplant into this family. There were others here before me, and others have arrived (or been born!) after me. It’s a constantly growing, constantly evolving organism that I’m blessed to be part of.
But I wasn’t always part of it—and to me, that’s the coolest part of all. Ten years ago, the people I call family today were total strangers. I could have passed them on the street without a second glance, but now they’re such an important part of my life that it would be hard to imagine a world without them.
Peter once wrote about us (the Church) as those “who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:10).
Wow. What a reminder. There’s a lot to unpack in that one verse. I’ve already written a short piece on why God’s mercy is something to be thankful for, but what really jumps out at me in this verse is how we were not always part of this family. We were not always the people of God.
We are transplants. The invitation to join God’s family was an invitation we had to accept or reject on our own. We are the branches of a wild tree, grafted in to become “a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17).
This is not a family we were entitled to be part of. We were invited, we were brought in, and we were made part of something bigger than us. Across the world, people who were once strangers became people we now call family—and that family is growing.
I love that, too.
God’s plan is such an incredible, multifaceted thing, but I think the most incredible part is that it doesn’t end with us. You and I aren’t the last people to join this family. It’s going to keep growing until the end of days—keep growing until every last one of us has received the invitation.
The world is filled with strangers, but not forever. The world is filled with hurt and pain and suffering, but not forever. God’s plan will continue toward its ultimate goal of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10) until “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ … from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:13, 16).
I hope you have many things to be thankful for this year. I hope you have health, friends, family, and a multitude of heaven’s blessings in your life—but even if you don’t; even if this year has been a year filled with trials and tests and hardships, I hope you are still able to give thanks for the most important thing of all:
You are part of the family that gets to heal the world.
Until next time,