Without much notice, all the plans I had held close and made for the next few years of my life were being redirected. I found myself flying over an ocean, making my way back home to my family when I should have been en route to Africa for an outreach trip instead. Sickness had crept upon me, and to home I was returning—with zero plans and many bittersweet feelings.

At first, I believed the lie that told me my return meant I had failed. It meant that I was no longer fulfilling the calling on my life and pursuing some great mission—or so it seemed.

However, it didn’t take too long for me to realize that through the grace, kindness, and understanding my family extended towards me, the Lord was working all things together for my good. Our good, really.

As each day passed, it became more evident that the Lord wanted to do something more than simply bring healing to my physical body. His heart for families spread across the earth is to see restoration, greater unity, and deepened relationships with Him placed at the center. I believe that is why He directed my steps back home—to be a part of this transformative process alongside my parents and siblings.

Let us not stifle the work He is doing in our current season because of our impatience to move on elsewhere.

Why do we often have such a small, skewed perspective when we serve such a great and powerful God? Let us not stifle the work He is doing in our current season because of our impatience to move on elsewhere. There is so much He wants to teach us if we would actually listen.

One day, I was particularly challenged when I came across the following set of verses in 1 John 3:16-18, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”

In reading the Word, I repeatedly see that we, as believers, are called to love others. We should count it our joy, honor, and responsibility to love. To serve. To sacrifice.

If I cannot love my family well, how can I expect to love anyone else? I am to lavish just as much love on them, if not more.  

There are many times I have ignored the call to put love into action. I can recall scrolling mindlessly through pages on the internet, while refusing to show my brother the attention he longed for. I have made excuses to stay home rather than hang out with my sister because I focused on my own desires before hers. This is not something I am proud of. More often than not, I forget to choose the highest good for my family.

I believe it comes down to this: I know what I am called to, but in the moment, it’s easier to choose self. But I don’t want what’s easier. I want what’s right. And that is loving. Loving brothers and sisters—blood related or not.

Mother Teresa once said, “Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in that action.” As I sought the Lord on how to love my family in greater measures, I felt that the answer was often simple and so practical.

Sometimes, love in the moment means backing away from social media and playing Legos with my brother. Or it could mean going on long walks with my sister rather than cleaning dishes. I think it has more to do with where my heart is and whether my lifestyle creates an example that points them to the Lord.

The process of seeing my family come together and honor one another above ourselves  as commanded in Romans 12:10 did not happen overnight. In fact, it has been an ongoing, ever changing, stretching journey that continuously requires sacrifice. But the Lord has moved in mighty ways, drawing us closer and teaching us about devotion along the way. He has taken a situation in which I felt extremely purposeless and showed me there is a time and season for everything.

I encourage you to reflect and see where love needs to begin for you today. What steps need to be taken to get there? My desire is to see the world changed—but what if that starts right here, where I am? At home, in the family. Loving wholeheartedly. One heart at a time. That is my mission.

 

Erika Spitler
has the desire for traveling the soils of the earth and loving on people of all nations. She finds purpose and deep hope in her Savior, Jesus Christ. A few of her favorites include living in community, dancing everywhere she can, and writing to encourage individuals to embrace the life they have been given.