Cider House Rules is a story of an orphanage where many complexities of morals and identity unfold.  There was a doctor that was the caretaker of these orphans who would say this special affirmation every night when the boys went to bed and they loved it.  In fact, they longed for it.

The doctor didn’t see these boys as abandoned and unkempt, unschooled misfits of whom no one wanted.  He saw inherent value that, despite their history, had treasures inside of them that made them royalty.

At this moment I am on a flight across the U.S. to visit family.  My family history has been, at many times agreeable, but definitely not without its interpersonal mishaps.  As I sit here in a cramped seat I wonder how things will be this time around.  No matter how life is going within my own home or career and the tremendous growth I perceive I have complete control over, there is something that seems final when it comes to family roles and who we are one another.

In a way, revisiting people from my past can feel as if I am stepping into an alternate universe.  I know that I am a new person and have great love for what the Kingdom is doing.  I have become to many people someone that has been a catalyst as I pursue further and further the revelation found in His word, yet I have repeatedly stepped into a role I don’t want to play.  If I have been made new, then how does that change the future of my family?  I have constructed somewhat of a historical and mental scoreboard that gets lit up when I am about to visit family.  Part of my stomach sinks when I think of the possibility of harsh treatments and pure negativity that has unfolded before me time and time again.  As I raise my family and do the “church thing”, somehow that can get compartmentalized apart from the rest of my life.

In churches around the US we may hear a familiar rhetoric that encourages us to stay away from bad influences in fear that their sin or negativity will poison our hearts and minds.  I have been personally affected by the attitudes and actions of others in a negative way, so I’m familiar with the rhetoric and sometimes substantiate it with numerous interactions somewhat expect history to repeat itself.

We all can relate to this dilemma.  We have checkered pasts and after finding this great love with Jesus, we retreat to areas of safety and self-sufficiency.   I entered into a relationship with Jesus and fell in love with Him.  Then, in order to “grow,” somewhere I had fallen out of love with Jesus and in love with righteousness.  Instead of affecting my family with the love of the Kingdom I have come to resent the fact that not all aspects have lined up with heaven.   I have wrestled with maintaining my identity as a son of the Father as I have returned to the role I have always found myself in; the position I have been placed in by my family in their own minds as to where I fit.  For whatever reason, I have claimed Matthew 13:57, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”

The reality is, you will step into the same family/social dynamics that you have always had until that universe has its axis tilted.  Because mankind is hungry to find their identity, much like those orphaned boys of Cider House Rules, we should all hunger for more of God to be put on showcase in our lives.  A trap that hell puts in front of us is this:

  1. Be offended by the world and try to use Gods word to prove to them wrong.
  2. Ignore toxic behavior that produces strife within relationships (believing that tolerance and passivity is pure righteous patience)
  3. Separate our hearts and interaction to either punish them or protect ourselves.

While we may convincingly justify any one of these actions of hearts, what is truly excellent is this:  Calling out the gold in people.  Even through rough exteriors and spotty pasts there is eternal and heavenly value that is beyond our comprehension, placed upon the despicable, the wretched, dishonest and most selfish people you will ever come across.   The very least of these have assignments from heaven that are far beyond our wildest imaginations.  The person we love the least has a rich story within them that could inspire the world, for that is what they were created for.

Will we believe that those from our past will see astonishing miracles happen in their lives and encounter the presence of the father’s joy and enjoy the astonishing and furious love He has for them?  Our new role in our families is to love our brothers and sister with a love that is sent from heaven.  It can’t be a love of merit and deserving.  It cannot be justified; it has to be ridiculous and nonsensical by all means, because it is good.

Instead of wondering how things are going to be, as to compare experiences and gauge where things stand, I am stepping off this airplane and getting into a rental car with my wife and kids.  But as the key goes into the ignition I can’t drive this car and “officially” complete our arrival until my wife and I settle this one thing between us.

We will be a source of heavenly love and contagious joy to those around us.  Everyone.  There is not a single person or event that will determine the state of our family, for we are not subject to the darkness, but the darkness is subject to the light.

As we step into today, heaven is on assignment to invade earth through your lives.  You are commissioned by Jesus with love and joy.  Holy Spirit let our hearts reflect the glory of Heaven.  Fill our hearts to have so much love that demons tremble and people feel us coming. .  Let every step we walk be the very ground of heaven and being carried with them the treasures of the throne room.  Amen.

Written by: Jordan Mudrock