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What began as a typical summer morning quickly turned memorable. With an extensive list of errands stuffed into my purse, I jumped into my car and started the engine. As I exited the driveway, the distinctive jingle of my cell phone broke the silence in the car. I answered it in time to hear the familiar voice of Nate, my son-in-law. "Nina, are you ready to become a grandma today?"
Excited, I turned the car around and returned home. Once inside my house, I grabbed a prepared tote bag. Back in my car, I sped to the hospital. I barged into the maternity ward out of breath. I arrived in time ... to wait.
My watch seemed to tick slowly as I spent the day in the waiting room. In the wee hours of the next morning, Nathaniel Dustin Davis was born. Cradling him for the first time, I understood he was special, but I did not know him yet. I wondered, Who are you, Nathaniel? Will you be tall like your dad or artistic like your mom? Will you love to throw a football, or will you prefer computers? Then another question arose: Who are you, Cathy, now that you are a grandmother?
That morning I realized I was unprepared to be a grandmother.
When I was a child, only my maternal grandfather was living. He died when I was six years old. Therefore, I do not have many fond memories of spending time with my grandparents. I had no role model for this senior role of grandparenting.
After Nathaniel was born, I tried to be the best grandma I could be. I cooked dinners, babysat, and bought diapers when they were on sale. Within a few months, though, I felt drained. Could there be more to the grandparent role than I thought?
Perplexed, I sought guidance from the Lord. I aspired to be a good grandparent, but soon I learned that God desires more than goodness. He wants godliness. His plan, as shown in Psalm 145:4, is for grandparents to tell the next generation about His mighty acts.
In many ways, our Western culture promotes the idea that when people reach the age of fifty-five or sixty, they are past their prime. It is time for them to step aside.
But moving aside is not God's plan.
Before the first flower bloomed on the face of this earth, the Creator of the heavens and earth fashioned all people. Carefully knitting together each one, He had a unique purpose in mind for each person, which aligned with His overarching mission: to raise a people for Him to love, who would return that love to Him.
God's destiny for His people has always been for us to be actively engaged in life. In Hebrews 12:1, we are told to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us." We are to run this race of life until we take our final breath.
Retirement does not exist in God's kingdom.
You may have many grandchildren. Maybe these children live down the street, or maybe they live across the country. You may be a grandparent-in-waiting, that is, waiting for your grown children to get married and have children. Or you may be a special, nonbiological grandparent who has a caring relationship with a particular child in your neighborhood or church.
Regardless of which category fits you, God has called you for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). You were not called to grandparent a hundred years ago during the dark days of World War I. Nor are you expected to grandparent a hundred years into the future. You have been called to grandparent in the early decades of the twenty-first century.
God's Destiny for You
The specifics of God's destiny for you are between the Lord and you. But certainly God has placed at the top of each grandparent's list the assignment of passing a legacy of faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, to his or her grandchildren. If you are a person of faith, you hold within your heart the treasure of the Good News of Jesus Christ. This news impacts life today and for eternity. By sharing Jesus Christ with your loved ones, you are equipping them to live life at its best.
God intentionally placed each child or grandchild in your life, whether they are biological or nonbiological. Having these special people in your life is an honor. In fact, impacting the next generation for the sake of Jesus Christ is a sacred trust the almighty God has given to us. He planned for you to pour your heart into your loved ones as you share the wisdom you have gained from your experiences. Often, these truths cannot be learned from a book, a peer, or a parent.
The Lord planned for you to share these truths so you can help to guide the hearts of these loved ones. They live in a challenging world. Each child needs to hear that God created him, loves him, and has an amazing plan for his life. What better person to pass these truths to that child than the grandparent who loves him or her? As designed by God, biblical discipleship means we are called to disciple the next generation to become lifelong followers of Jesus Christ. The goal is for all of us to arrive home in heaven for eternity.
The Problem We Face
However, some of us have encountered a formidable problem. Our grown children and grandchildren have left the church — the church family that helped to raise them. Leaving the church building is not the root problem, though. The tragedy is that our loved ones have walked away from their faith in Christ. They have severed their relationship with their heavenly Father, and they are walking through life alone.
Grandparents struggle with this issue because, in many cases, we did all we knew to do to raise our children in the faith. We followed the model given to us. At some point, we embraced the faith, but our children have not. We feel sad, guilty, confused.
Influential, Unbiblical Worldviews
Our children and grandchildren do not embrace faith in Christ as we did for several reasons. Most of these reasons are connected to the powerful impact our troubled culture has on them. It encourages future generations of our families to have worldviews contrary to the Bible. In fact, three major worldviews drive a wedge between our children and the Lord.
The first is relativism. This philosophy says truth is relative; therefore there is no absolute truth. In the past, we as a nation embraced certain truths whether or not we called ourselves Christians. As a culture, we all believed that murder, theft, and premarital sex (to name a few) were wrong. But today, our culture views these previously absolute truths as relative. Instead, the view is that each person is the designer of truth as he or she sees it. What I think to be true is true for me. What you think to be true is true for you. This relativism heavily influences our children's faith in God. Rather than easily following our example of being followers of Jesus Christ, our loved ones hesitate, question, and seek other gods to follow.
A second worldview caustic to faith in Jesus Christ is pluralism. This philosophy promotes the idea that there are many ways to the truth — whatever the truth might be for you. No one way is superior to another. Each individual must determine which way is authentic for him. Faith in Christ may be true for us. However, many of our loved ones do not believe such faith is a valid belief for them.
This is not a new way of thinking. In fact, Jesus encountered it in His time on earth. That is why He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father [that is God] except through me" (John 14:6). He was declaring that there are not many ways to truth. There is only one way — through Him.
Extreme tolerance is a third worldview contradictory to biblical thinking. Today people are expected to accept whatever views or lifestyles their families, neighbors, and society maintain. Each person's worldview is considered equally reasonable. We are to be the authors of our own views. Even if someone else's values conflict with ours, we are expected to be open-minded, allowing each person to live as he or she sees fit. Our loved ones may ask themselves why parents or grandparents should tell their children or grandchildren how to live.
The result of these pervasive modern worldviews is that many of our youths have walked away from the Lord. Barna Group, a private, nonpartisan, for-profit organization under the Issachar Companies, states "that nearly six in ten (59%) young people who grow up in Christian churches end up walking away." Statistically speaking, this means six out of ten high school seniors who were involved with the church in high school will abandon their relationship with the Lord. The Nehemiah Institute puts the percentage higher: They say, "Upwards of 70% of youth from Christian homes attending public schools cease attending church after high school."
Is There Hope?
Many grandparents have heavy hearts when they read such statistics. We are troubled and broken as we watch our loved ones walk away from the Lord.
Is there hope?
Is there anything we can do to point the hearts of our children and grandchildren toward the Lord?
Yes. There is tremendous hope for our families — that is, if you and I become proactive to pass faith in Jesus Christ to the next generation. God has given grandparents a power of influence over the hearts and minds of our grandchildren that is second only to their parents.
Think about this: God designed you for this job of reaching future generations for Him. You have a God-designed, Godgiven power of influence over your loved ones that is unparalleled. In no way does this diminish the importance of pastors, Sunday school teachers, or youth leaders. But our influence to connect the hearts of our children and grandchildren with the Lord's heart is primary.
God's plan has always been for parents and grandparents to encourage godly faith in their children and grandchildren, regardless of their age. Even when our children and grandchildren are grown, we continue to be their parents or grandparents. As time passes, we go through seasons of life. We do not parent or grandparent a fifteen-year-old the way we did when he was five years old. Similarly, we relate differently to a thirty-five-year-old son than to a twenty-year-old son. But we have a godly influence over their hearts until we leave this earthly life.
The Call to Fight the Good Fight
We accept the job God has given us: to reach the hearts and minds of our loved ones in the generation that follows ours. Then we can link arms with this next generation to raise the youngest generation to know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.
But how do we reach our families for the Lord?
Most Christian Baby Boomers long to connect the hearts of their loved ones with the Lord. But many grandparents are floundering. We feel unprepared for such a task. We simply do not know how to encourage faith in our children and grandchildren.
Grandparents, please understand that you do not stand alone in this task. When God calls someone, He promises to be there every step of the way. Isaiah 41 says that God called us from the "farthest corners" of the earth and He will "strengthen" us: He will uphold us with His "righteous right hand" (vv. 9-10).
Also, when Jesus delivered the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18–20, He told His disciples that "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." Then He commissioned them to "go and make disciples of all nations." This calling to make disciples of all nations starts at home. As grandparents, our children and grandchildren are our first mission field. Jesus' final words were that He would be with the disciples "always, to the very end of the age."
No, grandparents are never alone in the task of impacting the hearts and lives of their families.
The spiritual attack on the hearts and minds of our loved ones is far worse than any attack by ISIS, Russia, or Afghanistan. We have an Enemy who does not fight fairly. Ephesians 6:12 states, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." These spiritual forces of evil are mighty. They are beyond our human ability to overcome. But God assures us in 1 John 4:4 that "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." We have available to us the most formidable power of all to combat the worldly influences impacting the faith and lives of our loved ones.
So much is at stake. We need every grandfather and grandmother to stand up and join the army of grandparents passing a legacy of faith in Jesus Christ to their loved ones. Truly, this is "the good fight" Paul referred to in 2 Timothy 4:7. We fight by keeping our personal faith strong as we run the race of life God has placed before us. We are to run diligently in the power of His grace until we take our final breath.
An Earthly Memory of a Heavenly Truth
I remember running across my uncle's farmyard one day when I was five years old. Minutes earlier my family had arrived at his house. The sun was bright. It was probably hot, too, there in the heart of South Carolina. I do not remember the heat, though. I only recall the bright sunshine of the day. The crops stood on both sides of the beaten-down dirt path that ran from my uncle's house to my granddaddy's house. The crops were probably cotton, but I paid no attention to them. I was focused on the "big house" ahead — and on my granddaddy. He lived in that wood-framed house. Eagerly, I raced up the steps and onto the wraparound porch. Huge pecan trees offered their shade on the far side of this veranda. He sat in the shadows of the pecan grove. Watching, waiting, he was longing for me to come to him. As he pulled me onto his lap, I smelled the sweetness of peppermint. He always had peppermint sticks in his pocket. He wrapped his long arms around me and shared his sweet treats with me. We sat there, rocking together.
That memory depicts a snapshot of life — that is, an earthly picture of a heavenly truth. Just as my granddaddy watched, waited, and longed for me to come to him, so, too, does the grandest daddy of all watch, wait, and long for us to come to Him. On life's journey, we are all running to our Daddy in His heavenly home. We have the open invitation to develop an intimate relationship with Him in order to do life with Him — both for today and forever.
That is why you and I, as grandparents, have been called by our heavenly Father to point the hearts of our children and grandchildren toward the heart of their heavenly Father. We have been asked by God to tell these precious people about their wonderful Daddy in heaven (see Psalm 145:4). This amazing Father chose them, loves them, and has an incredible plan for their lives.
Leaving a Legacy
Each of us will leave a legacy. The question is, what kind of legacy will we leave our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren? Certainly, God intends for it to be more than real estate or money. If we are not intentional, prayerful, and careful, we will leave a diminished, compromised legacy. Therefore, we must rise to the calling God has placed on our lives and pass a God-centered legacy.
Is there breath in you? Then know that God has a plan for you.
With great joy, in the following chapters I share with you The Seven Keys the Lord revealed to me. May they empower each of you to step out boldly in faith and counter the anti-biblical worldviews that have a powerful, ungodly impact on the lives of your loved ones. With these keys, you may touch the hearts of your family members and become a life changer for them. Prepare to run an astonishing race with the Lord by your side. Pursue His calling to you as you pass a legacy of faith in Jesus Christ to your loved ones.
Yes, we can be grandparents who make a difference. There is no higher calling. There is no greater legacy.
Chapter One: The Calling
Pounding It Out
1. What does being a good grandparent mean to you? Is this the same as being a godly grandparent? If not, what is the difference?
2. Read Hebrews 12:1-2. What does Paul say about "running the race"? In your opinion, what is retirement? Did people "retire" a hundred years ago? Why or why not? Do you think retirement is a biblical or a cultural concept?
3. Write what you think is God's purpose for the season in life that our culture calls retirement.
4. What are three worldviews that are contrary to biblical thinking? [Relativism, pluralism, tolerance] Do you see how these secular worldviews impact your children? Grandchildren? Give a few examples.
5. What is a legacy? What kind of legacy are you leaving your loved ones? Are you leaving a spiritual heritage?
6. God in His wisdom created parents and grandparents to have a God-designed power of influence over their children and grandchildren. How does this agree or disagree with the beliefs and practices of our culture?
Driving It Home
1. Do you think God intended for your godly influence over your children and grandchildren to end once they become adults? Does it change? How? When?
2. What kind of amazing purpose do you think God called you to be as a godly grandparent? Write down this purpose and post on your bathroom mirror so you can contemplate it frequently.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Pass The Legacy"
Copyright © 2018 Catherine Jacobs.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: An Urgent Message xiii
Chapter 1 The Calling 1
Chapter 2 The Dirt on You 15
Key 1 Surrender Your Heart to the Lord
Chapter 3 Be a Rudy 27
Key 2 Read the Bible Daily
Chapter 4 Babushkas on Their Knees 41
Key 3 Pray Fervently
Chapter 5 Running for Life 61
Key 4 Pursue Healthy Relationships
Chapter 6 Is There a Doctor in the House? 79
Key 5 Heal Broken Relationships
Chapter 7 Pencils, Notebooks, and Computers 99
Key 6 Leave a Written Legacy of Love
Chapter 8 Tell Your Stories 125
Key 7 Pass Your Faith
Chapter 9 Make a Plan 143
Chapter 10 Run, Grandparent, Run 155
Appendix A Spacepets: An Acronym for Personal Application of Biblical Truths 167
Appendix B Conversation Starters for Pursuing Healthy Relationships 171
Appendix C Prayer for the Salvation of a Grandchild 173
Appendix D Blessings Recorded in Scripture 175
Appendix E Tips for Sharing the Gospel with Children 177