How Then Shall We Live & Die – Setting a Godly Example in All Stages of Life

Written by John Coulombe, Director of Development, Legacy Coalition

Recently a friend of my vintage shared that he couldn’t attend an event because his parents wouldn’t let him go out! Realizing he was in his 70s, I questioned whether or not his parents were actually still alive! His response? “No, I’m actually referring to Mother Nature and Father Time!”

This special season as grandparents also comes with the reminder that we aren’t what we used to be, which Solomon woefully noted as he journaled near the end of his life (Eccl. 12)! Moses wrote, “Man may live to be 70 or 80, but then we fly away…” (Ps. 90:10-12).

And if we live long enough, things will naturally fall apart…it’s part of the aging process…and it is bothersome, uncomfortable, unwelcomed, and…well, the pits! As my mother once put it, “Johnny, these golden years are getting tarnished!”

God’s ideal is actually realistic IF we allow the Holy Spirit to be in control. The one thing that need not deteriorate with age is our spirit—our inward being. The apostle Paul says it this way: “We never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Apparently, we can be renewed daily and mature, instead of becoming grumpy, crabby, and withered old curmudgeons!

This then begs a question as it relates to our grandchildren. What will they see and what will they remember when our bodies begin to have a breakdown? (and that will happen if we live long enough)

Characteristics from Psalm 71

Below is a list of characteristics, gleaned from Psalm 71, is my hope to leave as a living legacy for my grandchildren as they witness this season of my life. May my life teach these timeless biblical truths. May I be the grandparent who:

  1. Leans on God for protection when entering the ‘danger zones.’
  2. Has radiant joy, peace, and hope in the midst of sorrow and pain.
  3. Offers genuine praise to the LORD instead of complaints about the medical personnel, hospital, or hospital food.
  4. Lives above my circumstances instead of under them.
  5. Consults with God re: His will…and trust.
  6. Plans ahead re: my physical living will and trust.
  7. Is quick to share in word and deed, talk and walk, the power of the Gospel and testify to God’s goodness in my own life.
  8. So covered in grace, it spills all over everyone and everything I bump into!

This is my challenge and hope for you, grandparent, as well.

Personal Thoughts

While lying in a hospital bed at St. Jude Hospital in August of 2006, I was given the privilege of time to re-evaluate my life and life’s work. I discovered that when one’s body is broken, many values change: that which was so important no longer is; and that, which meant so little, strangely means so much.

In the middle of the night, I spent some precious moments reviewing my outlook on life—and death. When I woke the next morning I wrote them down, realizing opportunities to think like this are rare and greatly stimulated by being at and in this kind of place. I called it Thoughts from Room 387.

Here are a few of those musings:

  1. Trust Him – God is in control. I’m not. (Ps.115:3)
  2. Slow Down – God is not in a hurry. I am. You’re a patient, so be patient. (Matt. 6:25-34)
  3. Focus on Him, Guard your heart – Center your heart on the Lord’s, rather than on your own broken-down heart. (Col. 3:1; Phil. 4:6-7; Prov. 4:23)
  4. Pray for others – In the hospital, there are always people worse than you. Reach out with a word if you can, but you can certainly pray for them. (Rom. 12:9-21; 1 Cor. 15)                   
  5. Be joyful, thankful – Be grateful for small things. (1Thess. 5:16-18; Phil 4:11-14)
  6. Savor the moments – Enjoy the little things in life. (Prov. 17:22) Use them as an opportunity to become more Christ-like. (2 Cor. 4)
  7. Prepare to meet your God  – Reconcile with anyone you need to. (Amos 4:12. 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Cor. 5:18-20)

There were so many more things that came to mind. Remember, as God continues to teach you first, may you have the opportunity and courage to share these musings with your grandchildren.

How should we then live …. or die? We should do all to the glory of God and the good of others. May your grandchildren know how to live and die because they watched you, grandparent!

More to explore

The Truth Will Set You Free

The weight of a grandparent’s role can be felt immensely. We hold the stories of the past, the wisdom of experience, and a fierce love for the next generation.

Grandparent, Teach Me to Pray (Part 2)

Part 1 of this blog shared four things to keep in mind as you seek to pass prayer on to your grandkids. Here in Part 2, we’ll look at some specific techniques for helping grandchildren learn what to pray for.

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