“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4
By: Jennifer Clark
Parenting can be terrifying. I remember when I first brought my little bundle home from the hospital; I just wanted to keep him alive. Here was this tiny, helpless baby that was totally dependent on me and my husband. I couldn’t even remember to water my plants, and they gave me a baby?
The first night, we finally coaxed him to sleep in his bassinet I stood there for about ten minutes just watching him breathe. At least I thought he was breathing….wait was he breathing? So, naturally, I poked him.
Eventually I began to let go of some of my anxiety about his survival. I think the turning point was the day at the park when he popped a used Popsicle stick in his mouth. I was horrified, repulsed and more than a little freaked out. But he didn’t get sick, and his tongue didn’t fall off. He was fine. I realized I was going to have to let go a little. I would just do the best I could to keep him safe.
But since this summer, I have spent a lot of time thinking about another, greater responsibility to my son: How do I raise him to become a good, Christian man?
You see, this past summer, my family lost my grandfather. It is difficult to put into words the depth of that loss. Over the course of his life, he helped raise three families. His own father died when my grandfather was a young man. My great-grandmother was left with children still at home to raise on her own. My grandpa stepped into that void and was, in many ways, a provider and father figure to his younger siblings. Then, with his wife, my grandma, he raised his own family of four children. Later, he stepped up again and became much more than a grandfather to three of my cousins, his grandchildren.
He was more than a father, grandfather or great- grandfather. He was a pastor that that didn’t just preach the Gospel, he lived it every day. I saw him help feed the poor, and visit the sick and the lonely. He yearned for heaven, but it was his devotion to doing Christ’s work on earth that I think gave him such great satisfaction. He wouldn’t, he often said, trade anything for his journey now.
We knew his life was coming to an end when he entered hospice care in June. Waves of people, generations of family members came to say goodbye and pray. Sometimes there were so many people that we all couldn’t fit in his room, so we would sit with him in shifts. He was never alone.
This was not a man, by the standards of the world, who was outstanding or exceptional. He wasn’t rich or famous. There will never be buildings named after him or monuments built in his in honor. But my grandpa did not have his eyes set on this world. His treasures were stored up in the kingdom of heaven.
To be a parent is to send ripples through time. My grandpa’s influence did not end with his death. Because of his example, generations of my family will know what it means to live a life that honors God. I look at my son, and wonder, how can I carry on this legacy?