“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2.

In the Ideal Family series we have been talking about the ideal compared to the real family. In this devotional I would like to talk to the individual. Do you have a vision of what the ideal you would look like? If so, how does it compare to the real you? G. K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

I hope you realize from this series that the “ideal” is not “the real” and “the real” is not the “ideal”. Yes, that sounds confusing, but only until you consider that the ideal only exists in our imaginations. They are targets to shoot for, but our results are usually short of those targets. We often forget this however, and expect the ideal notions in our mind to have counterparts in real life. They typically don’t because the ideal family doesn’t include those things that make it real: eccentricities, quirks, foibles, and all the other unique and fascinating aspects that make all of us less than ideal, but certainly real.

Should we expect the ideal in family relationships? That usually results in frustration because we expect out of others what we don’t have ourselves. In the ideal world, the pastor is funny, visits each member or regular attendee each day, is never unavailable, and he preaches in a deep, but applicable way. He is never discouraged and has none of the unique quirks, and eccentricities that exist in the tangled real world. That is not me, and not any pastor I know.

You could make a similar list of what it would take to be ideal and avoid being too real. But you would have some things that are less than ideal and some things that are all too real. While our family and we as individuals will never be ideal, there are some things we can do to move towards the ideal. We can start by remembering that, “God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.”  His ways and thoughts are much higher and better than ours. So are His standards.

We can choose our own paths, reach our own goals, and follow our own comfortable way in life. Or, we can choose to trust that our Heavenly Father knows what’s best for us. Following God’s path stores up treasures in heaven, and enables you to reach your full potential in Jesus Christ.

Sure, it may be a difficult path at times.  Sure, life will not always be easy. Just as it is not always easy to deal with the family. But it is so worth it.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In life, what are things that you strive after? In your Christian life, what are goals you strive after?  What benchmarks and goals do you use for growth in the Christian life?
  2. How do you view the idea of submitting?
  3. What is the difference in your mind between the ideal Christian and the mature Christian?
  4. Which of God’s principles for Christian households challenge you to change?
  5. What in the Ideal Family series challenged you to change?