“Always make room in your home for Jesus, just as Mary and Martha did whenever he came by,” my wife Lois’s 104-year-old grandfather Carl exhorted us. We were engaged to be married at the time and traveled to Connecticut to meet the family patriarch. While Grandpa Carl’s body was worn, his mind was as sharp as ever. I left my twenty-minute visit inspired by Grandpa to be like him – to pass on my faith as he did, should the Lord bless me with children and grandchildren.
Since that day, the Lord has blessed Lois and me with six children and now five grandchildren. I carry grandpa Carl’s legacy with me and would like to pass along to you what I’ve learned about this centennial’s life.
Grandpa Loved Jesus – As I stood beside his bed, he shared how eager he was to finish the race and get to kneel at the feet of his Savior, Jesus. A smile lit up his face as he spoke of Jesus with a joyful tone. Later I learned that people wanted to be around grandpa Carl from the time he got up until the time he went to bed – all because of how he spoke of Christ and his love for the Lord. I’ve often thought about my own life in the shadow of Carl’s example. You can be sure folks don’t want to be around me all day. And yet, keeping Carl’s example active in my mind has helped me share my affections for God with my children and grandchildren.
If you love Jesus, let your children and grandchildren know. Tell them all about the ways the Lord has provided for you in life. Talk about the trials he led you through and the blessings he poured out to help you make it through those trials.
Grandpa Treasured God’s Word – Grandpa shared out of the wealth of knowledge he acquired from reading the Bible and memorizing the Word. Grandpa referenced Scripture again and again during that short 20-minute visit we had with him. Scripture endowed his encouragement with authority and power. I am confident the Holy Spirit worked through his Bible-based encouragements to capture my heart.
Keep your grandchildren in mind as you read the Bible in your devotions and ask the Spirit of God to point out verses you can share with them. If you get the impression a particular verse is for a specific grandchild, tell them how God led you to a verse just for them. We want our children and grandchildren to see that we have a relationship with a living God who leads us by his Spirit into all truth (John 16:13).
Grandpa Passed On His Faith – Grandpa loved to talk about Jesus, but he also loved to write letters to his grandchildren to tell them about Jesus. Here is an excerpt from a letter he sent his grandson Mark.
My dear Sonny Mark, it may be that your grandpa will never see you here on earth, for my time is up, and the Lord may call me any time home to glory; but you have yet a whole life before you. God gave it to you for a purpose. That purpose is: That we earthly creatures may prepare ourselves for a better place. The preparation is: First repentance to God, and then faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For without repentance there is no forgiveness and without forgiveness no heaven. And the way is to confess you are a sinner and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.
Grandpa loved to write, and folks saved his letters. Mark saved his letters from grandpa and pulled this one out during a family reunion to introduce Grandpa’s legacy to the great-grandchildren. My wife, too, has a stack of letters she received from Grandpa that she saved. I started writing letters to my grandchildren the day of their birth. I write a letter for each grandchild, every year on their birthday that I seal in an envelope to be opened, one per year, starting on their 12th birthday. In those letters, I talk about how much I love them and my love for Christ.
Grandpa left big shoes for me to fill. While I fall short of his extraordinary example. It only took one twenty-minute conversation to inspire me to want to be like him. That was the only time I met Grandpa Carl. He passed into glory a few short months later. While I miss plenty of opportunities, it is good to know that it only takes 20 minutes to impact a life by your example.