"Inlaws" are a common subject for comedians, sitcoms, and gossip; but it has been said that inlaws are the glue that holds the human community together. They are the folks that become part of your extended family; people who will in the long run share grandchildren and connect you with a whole additional chunk of humanity. The power of marriages to connect more than just two individuals has been recognized since the beginning of history; the classic example is Solomon, who married 300+ wives to connect with all the tribal and political leadership in his part of the world. He did have political peace, but it cost not just him but a good part of his own family their spiritual heritage. On the other end, we see small communities who are all cross-connected and ingrown.
At its best, extended families are a positive thing. Coming from a large extended family, and marrying into a large extended family, I have had the privilege of connecting with a wide variety of interesting people, from a wide variety of backgrounds. My dad's inlaws were pretty much Scandinavian; his grandchildren's inlaws look like the UN. Several years ago, my daughter and I visited one of her cousins in England, and one night at dinner, between a total of 10 people, all connected by blood and/or marriage, we had ancestral backgrounds of Sweden, Finland, Lebanon, Turkey, Italy, South Africa, and the Philippines, all within two or three generations. Not having sisters, I am grateful for sisters-in-law, one of whom was my earliest mentor and all of whom are valued friends.
It is especially good when the families have church connections as well. My dad and his next younger brother's families keep running across each other in all sorts of places; one of my cousins knew my husband John's family in Lebanon before I met him; I have met people in all sorts of places who know various missionary relatives; and one of my cousins and I both wound up in San Bernardino after growing up in totally different parts of the country--and her son Mark Lambert and I were on the NCF Ministry Board together for several years; and there are more.
Hanging in there through 50 or 60 years of marriage isn't always easy, but I've been to several celebrations of family and friends that have made it. One couple that I have particularly appreciated is Al and Edie Lambert; Edie's and my dad were the two older brothers and always close; so we knew our uncles well. After my dad was gone, my uncle and aunt (who also made more than 60 years of marriage!) were substitute grandparents for my kids. To make it better, Al and John got to be good friends as well as inlaws. This is the picture I found for this week, illustrating the results of one family who served the Lord and raised their kids to serve Him as well. This is God's intention for His church and His world!