The Family of God

“God’s grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ.” —Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

Excerpt from Shiny Shoes on Dusty Paths, Vol. 1, chapter 15: Wooden Shoes on Rough Cobblestones

“We became acquainted with the quaint old city of Antwerp (Belgium). It derived its name from the Flemish term, Hant Werpen or Throwing of the Hand. According to tradition, if a ship captain refused to pay toll to the local pirates, the pirates would seize the ships, cut off the captain’s hand and throw it into the river.

“The narrow cobblestone streets buzzed with activity. Between the rows of dark, red brick townhouses, there were few cars.  Taxis honked their rubber air horns; milk wagons drawn by teams of dogs mingled with horse-drawn bread wagons. Intricate sculptured steel latticework on big cast-iron posts supported the huge slate roofs covering the merchandise on the docks.

“Big Belgian draft horses, with their thick shanks and broad muscular shoulders, pulled cargoes of beer or boxes containing minerals, diamonds, ivory tusks and other goods that were loaded on and off the freighters at the docks. We marveled at these beautiful horses that needed to be guided only by one rein. At nighttime, when the horses started off with their loads, the scraping of their horseshoes on the cobblestones threw streaks of sparks.

“Another place we enjoyed was the pier. There we’d watch the Congo boats come in and go out. We imagined ourselves on one of those departing ships. Then we’d leave with a sigh. When would our turn come…

“After visiting several churches… we finally discovered the Evangelische Kerk, a branch of the Belgian Gospel Mission (today Belgian Evangelical Mission) Immediately we felt at home. The people welcomed us with enthusiasm and warmth. After the service, the pastor and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Meyers, invited us over for delicious Belgian coffee.  From then on we had a standing invitation to dine at their home every Monday evening. Thus we learned to enjoy strumpf and other Belgian dishes. What impressed us most was the prayer of thanks before—and another after— meals… When we commented the pastor quoted Deuteronomy 8:10, ‘When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord they God.’ We found the custom quite appropriate…

“Little by little, friendships developed and invitations became plentiful. There were also happy times at picnics in the park and excursions up the Schelde River, to the zoo, or to the Plantin Moretus Museum. We soon realized that the strangeness we’d felt upon arriving had vanished. Bonds of love that had no respect for difference of nationality tied us together as one family.”

Joanne’s Comments

What a precious thing when Christians meet up with strangers in distant places and discover that they share the same faith in the Lord Jesus. A casual acquaintance instantly becomes a family connection marked by that mysterious family likeness and bonds of love.

“I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God,

I’ve been washed in the fountain,

Cleansed by His blood,

Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,

I’m so glad I’m part of,

The family of God.”

—Words and Music by William J. Gaither, Copyright 1970

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