Grandma and Grandpa Sayler’s Lasting Gift

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
(2 Timothy 1:5 ESV)

Last night at the Sayler house we had baked potatoes for supper.  We were limited on time and didn’t really want to cook what was on the menu for the evening.  Our options were few, we’re cutting back on eating out, so we decided to have baked potatoes.  Christi got right to work on making the broccoli and cheese topping, while I prepared the potatoes.

As I mentioned we were short on time, so I had to use the microwave.  I forked the potatoes, placed them on the plate, put a steamer lid over them (thank you Tupperware lady) and put them in to cook.  It took 20 minutes on high to cook six potatoes in the microwave, but they were piping hot and ready to go.

Halfway through the meal I thought we might need a couple more baked potatoes in case anyone wanted seconds, so I got up to prepare them.  Then I noticed it: the microwave was dead.  The light wouldn’t come on when I opened the door.  The display panel was blank.  I ran to the basement to check the breaker, everything was still on.  My heart sunk; our microwave was dead.

Now, I’m not one to get too attached to possessions.  We have had the microwave for 16 years, but that’s not why I was sad.  The sad part was it was a gift from my grandparents.

Grandma and Grandpa Sayler weren’t able to come to our wedding.  Christi and I were getting married in Colorado, they lived in Kansas City, and they couldn’t make the trip.  Just a month after the wedding, both were in the hospital.  Grandpa was dying from complications due to Parkinson’s, grandma had the flu.  Christi and I drove up to see them, in fact the whole family was gathered there.  We gathered in their room, said our “goodbyes” to grandpa, prayed and sang. 

In the midst of all this, grandma had one thing on her mind: she just had to give us a check for our wedding gift so we could buy a microwave.  It was what they had decided to give us for our wedding, and she was singularly possessed by her desire to give us a check and to make sure we bought a microwave.  Finally, after much protesting, we graciously took the check and were able to buy the microwave that now sits, overheated, on our kitchen counter.  We said a little thank you to grandma and grandpa every time we used it, now it’s a little sad to see it go.

Still, I have another lasting gift from my grandparents: it is a legacy of faith that they have passed on to me, and I hope to pass on to my children and grandchildren.  Anytime I stop to think about grandma and grandpa Sayler, I recall the devotions before breakfast and supper.  Usually Grandpa read from Guideposts or Our Daily Bread – and as a kid I’d sit through anything just to eat the Cookie Crisp cereal they had bought just for us.  As I grew older, I treasured those moments in devotion and prayer.  If we were ever with Grandma and Grandpa on the weekends, we’d be in church, no excuses.  I remember Grandpa having a heart to heart conversation with me about going to seminary.  (He had been influential in starting a Christian Businessmen’s Ministry to inmates in Kansas City, reaching them with the gospel and training them with job skills, and helping them find work once released – he wanted me to know that I didn’t have to be ordained to be in ministry.)  All in all, I’d say this spiritual influence is a far greater gift from my grandparents than any old appliance – it will surely last longer.

What gift are you passing on to your family?  A lot of the stuff will pass away, but the investment that we make in the hearts of our children and grandchildren is what is lasting.  Pray with and for them.  When they come to visit, bring them to church.  Share your faith with them, let them know what you believe and why.

Psalm 78:5-7 says,

He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;

I am thankful that my grandparents and my parents taught me to set my hope in God and not forget His mighty works.  Let us pledge to pass that gift on to the generations that follow.

SDG

Make It Known

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”
(Psalm 145:4, ESV)

Have you established an inheritance for your children and grandchildren?  It’s something I think everyone hopes to do, leave something behind as a blessing for our children and their children.  When I go, I will leave everything behind.  I would leave my family with their debt of gratitude rather than simply in debt.  As a pastor and father of four, to leave my family with a financial inheritance will take a lot of planning and discipline, but the joy of giving the gift to future generations will be worth it.

However, the generations that follow us will inherit a great many things above and beyond a financial gift or obligation.  I have inherited my father’s sense of humor (or lack thereof), his sense of physical discipline (or lack thereof), and his astonishingly good looks (or lack… wait a minute).  Whether intentionally or not, we pass along from one generation to the next our priorities, passions, perspectives.  Our children may gain their inheritance directly, through our instruction and advice, or indirectly, by what they observe and overhear in our lives.

Have you given any thought to the Spiritual Inheritance that you will leave behind?  If your family were asked today to describe your faith, could they give an informed response?  Have they seen your faith evidenced in the way you live, the way you work, the things you say?  Have you shared your faith with your family, have you passed it along to the next generation?

Consider Psalm 78:5-7, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments,” and Psalm 145, “One generation shall commend your works to another.”  Even Paul, in his letter to Timothy said, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt secure first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).  God’s word teaches us that our faith is handed from one generation to the next, like a baton in a relay.  If we do not actively share our faith and teach it to the next generation, we have dropped the baton and set our children up for failure.  John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, once wrote, “Your children have souls, and they must be born of God as well as of you, or they perish.  And know also, that unless you are very vigilant in your behavior toward and before them, they may perish through you: the thoughts of which should provoke you, both to instruct, and also to correct them.”

What can you do then, to be sure you pass your faith along from generation to generation?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be faithful in worship, and bring your family!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I won’t be coming to church this week; we have family/friends visiting.”  Can they not come to church?  Invite them, urge them, implore them to worship with you.  Nothing shows your love for your family and friends more than providing them an opportunity to come before the Lord in worship and praise, to hear His Word proclaimed, and to receive the blessing of His presence.
  • Worship as a family.  This doesn’t have to be complicated.  Read one of the devotions provided by the church together each day, and pray the suggested prayer.  If you are inclined, sing a hymn or praise chorus too.  Mathew Henry wrote, “They that pray in the family do well; they that pray and read the Scriptures do better; but they that pray, and read, and sing do best of all.”  If you’d like more resources on starting family worship visit: http://familyworshipguide.net/.
  • Read your Bible often, and discuss it as a family.  Whatever you do for family worship, make sure that you also spend time reading the Bible, both personally and together as a family.  Every evening, I read to our children one chapter from the Bible.  If they have questions, I try to answer them.  Sometimes I try to clarify what we’ve read.  Other times, I ask them what they think about the passage.  More than just reading the Bible let it engage you and your family.  Share with your wife, kids, friends, your favorite book of the Bible, tell them what passages have great meaning for you, ask which ones they like.  John Quincy Adams noted, “So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.  I have for many years made it a practice to read through the Bible once a year.”

Let it be known, from generation to generation, that your faith was genuine and sincere.  Let there be no doubt of your love for God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit.  May we never forsake this sacred duty to make known God’s faithfulness to all generations (Psalm 89:1).