On Becoming a Grandfather

As I write this devotion, my wife and I are enjoying the final day of our visit to Texas. We have been with our son and daughter-in-law on the extraordinary occasion of the birth of their first child – and our first grandchild, Annie Renee’ Henderson.  I’ve heard that grandchildren fill a space in your heart that you never knew was empty.  Author Joy Hargrove wrote, “One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandfather.”  Needless to say, it has been a joyful and rewarding visit.

Three Moments

As I reflect on this remarkable visit, three moments stand out in my mind.  They really frame this devotion.

Moment One – Holding My Granddaughter: If you are a grandparent, you know this feeling.  If not, it is an amazing experience to anticipate.  To hug and cherish a new life that represents the next generation of family and Christ followers is a joy beyond description.

Moment Two – A Thanksgiving Family Gathering:
While in Texas, 20 members of the Henderson family gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving.  My two brothers and I had children and grandchildren present for the first time.  Four of us in attendance were also pastors.  We realized that all that we shared in Christ had been passed down by my parents.  While they have both been in heaven for many years now, this visual demonstration of their spiritual legacy was very moving.

Moment Three – Reading My Son’s Bible: Early one morning as I sat in the living room before others had awakened, I picked up my son’s well-worn study Bible and began to read, not just the biblical text, but the notes and underlines entered by Jordan.  My heart was so warmed in realizing that he was passionate and well-equipped as a dad to pass on a vibrant faith in Christ to our little granddaughter.

Grandfatherly Biblical Ideals

As I read my son’s Bible that morning, I focused on the three small epistles in the back of the New Testament, written by the elderly Apostle John.  For the first time, I really saw these letters from a “grandfather’s” perspective as John writes to multiple generations of followers.  In these three small letters he calls his readers “children” some 18 times (often using the phrase “little children”).

As I read, I wondered, “What would an aged apostle want to say to his spiritual grandchildren?” Of course, these three small letters are packed with many themes.  However, several recurring themes gripped my heart as I pondered John’s wisdom.

The Reliability of God’s Truth – In the English translations, the word “truth” occurs 22 times in these three brief letters.  John wanted his readers to embrace and stand strong in the enduring and transforming reality of God’s truth.  Even though generations come and go, God’s truth remains.  Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”  Jesus reiterated, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). In essence, his grandfatherly message was, “Little children, in light of the many ‘antichrists’ you will encounter, you have a sure anointing to know and live the truth in righteousness and victory” (1 John 2:18-21, 3:7-9. 4:4).

The Assurance of Salvation –
In these epistles, John uses the word “know” some 33 times.  He wanted his “children” to understand the marks of genuine faith, and then stand in full confidence of what they know to be true of their salvation.  First John 5:13 (often considered the key verse of the book) says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”  John’s heart was, “Little children, in light of your many failings and struggles with sin, you know that we have forgiveness through our Savior and advocate Jesus Christ” (1 John 2:1-2 & 12).

The Priority of Love – Forty-two times John refers to the priority and proof of love.  He assured them of God’s love for them and the authentic fruit of their love for Him and one another.  He had written earlier in his gospel account, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).  In these epistles, he reminds them, “Little children, in light of the many pretenders in this world, you know the genuineness of your walk through the God-given love that you demonstrate in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18-20).

The Best is Yet to Come

I was also reminded that even though John was growing old as he passed on these truths to new generations, his own journey of advancing in love and truth was not over.  Later, the elderly and exiled John would be “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” when he would receive the profound vision of Jesus Christ and His plan for the future of this world, via the book of Revelation.  This encouraged me to not only look back to the generations behind me, but to keep looking forward to the Savior and prize before me as I remain faithful to be “in the Spirit,” serving with diligence.

It’s been said that “grandchildren are a grandparent’s link to the future, and grandparents are the child’s link to the past.” Author Lois Wyse wrote, “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.” I’ve also heard that grandchildren are loving reminders of what we’re really here for.

As I held little Annie, read my own son’s Bible, and was reminded of the legacy of faith that continues from generation to generation, my heart was deeply encouraged.  In spite of the uncertain world my granddaughter has entered, I know that she will experience the power and reliability of God’s truth, will be able to stand in the assurance of Christ’s salvation, and will be kept and empowered by His love for decades yet to come.  That is the true joy of being a grandfather.

Copyright © 2010 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.