Getting to Know You

Dad's writingToday while cleaning out an old file cabinet I came across a piece of aged cardboard with a bit of my dad’s familiar script on it. It was a list of two items, both crossed off as if completed. Seeing his hand- writing sent a ripple of warmth through me, because as I saw his words, I saw him.

We can tell all kinds of things from a person’s writing. Actually, there are analysts who call themselves graphologists who say they can give details about whether or not someone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he/she did the writing, what their mental state was at the time, and what their personality characteristics are. Some dispute this, but even detectives confess to using graphologists in their efforts to solve crimes.

But those things aren’t what I saw in my dad’s writing. Instead I saw these:

  • DadDad was a serious person.
  • He embraced responsibility.
  • He thought in legal terms.
  • He wrote legibly.
  • He didn’t waste words.
  • He didn’t waste paper, choosing the back of a tablet for his list.

Also, since it looks like he penned a slow line under each item, I wondered if he might have been on the phone at the time, doodling a bit. Was he using his list as a prompt during the conversation?

I think about the words God has written for us to read, though we’ve never seen his actual handwriting. People have called the Bible a love letter, the word of truth, the law, the Good Book, The Holy Writ, the Scriptures, and The Word of God. We can tell an awful lot about the Main Character of the book by reading the inspired words we find there.

This is especially important because God is currently invisible, which makes “seeing” him in the pages of Scripture extremely valuable. Jesus even told us that’s how we should get to know him, by reading and studying the Bible.

One of my desires for 2015 is to get to know Jesus better. That was my goal for 2014, too, and though it did happen to a certain extent, there’s always more to discover. Actually, I don’t think we will ever, even through eternity, learn all there is to know about the Lord. Because of that, getting to know him better is probably a good goal for every year.

I’m looking forward to someday seeing the face of Jesus and also to hearing his voice. And maybe I’ll even get to study a writing sample. The only problem is, it’ll probably be in Aramaic.

”The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Tending To It

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had only one chore: God instructed them to tend the garden. He had already accomplished the planting, and there were no weeds to pull. Garden of EdenGenesis 2 tells us they didn’t even have to water it, since the river took care of that. From the sound of it, all they had to do was decide which “delicious fruit” they felt like eating each day and then eat it.

But then sin and rebellion entered the picture, and everything changed. On that awful day, God approached them in a mindset they’d not seen before. His goal was to have a serious talk with them, describing the demotion they were about to experience. And none of it sounded good.

God used the words “curse, pain, hostility, labor, toil, sweat, thorns, and thistles.” Sadly, this meeting, during which Adam and Eve said nothing, was their last before being ejected from the garden and their perfect lives there.  Immediately afterwards, he sent them away.

NateNelsonNow, thousands of years later, the words of God’s solemn speech to our ancestors still apply to us. We bump into them virtually every day as we tend to our homes, our cars, our bills, our health, our relationships, and yes, the thorns and thistles in our gardens.

Adam and Eve started out with only one tending-chore, and that a pleasant one. But after sin happened, they and the rest of us have had to tend to one thing or another virtually around the clock. Our work never ends. As Mom used to say, “Even when we sleep, the dust is settling, the weeds are growing, and the sheets are getting dirty.”

But God knew that the many new stresses on his first two people might overwhelm them (and us too), so he did something wonderful. Though he subtracted Adam and Eve’s idyllic lifestyle and substituted a list of negatives, he left some important positives in place.

This young couple would still be able to share laughter, enjoy tasty food, experience pleasing aromas, get excited about things, and experience joy, love, contentment, and lots more. Though God did punish them on that fateful day, he also encouraged them by allowing them to keep many of the good gifts he’d given them in Eden. And amazingly, he continues to give those same gifts to us today.

Surely Adam and Eve walked out of their beautiful garden that day feeling miserable and fearful. But God was actually tending to their hearts in a way they almost certainly didn’t realize then: His strong, saving presence was walking right out with them.

And amazingly, he’s still walking with us today.

“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13)

Family Blessings

Before I had grandchildren, I would read Scripture’s references to them and make no connection. But now those same verses mean a lot more, because they include names and faces.

The basic message is, “If you live to see grandchildren come into your family, you’ll be blessed beyond measure.” Jeremiah put it this way: “Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them, so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away!” (29:6, NLT)

With Isaac, used on Linni's blogThe joys of grandchildren are as varied as the children themselves, and grandparents love noticing personality differences and God-given bents. With the buffer of a generation between us (our own children), we’re free to encourage and nurture them without having to participate in the more challenging tasks of parenthood, like discipline and decision-making.

But what happens if we grow into old age without any children and thus without grandchildren? Are we meant to forfeit those scriptural blessings?

I don’t think so. The key to claiming the blessing is to understand how broad the definition of the word “grandchildren” is in the Bible. One of those verses hints at it by saying, “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged.” (Proverbs 17:6) Though I dearly love my grandchildren, I wouldn’t call them a “crowning glory.” I think the words “crowning glory” have more to do with spiritual matters than physical ones.

If someone asked me, “What’s your life’s crowning glory?” I would answer, “My saving relationship with Christ.” Psalm 103 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (v. 1 & 4) Now, that’s a crown I love wearing!

But how do we link a spiritual crown with grandchildren? I think the answer is in our parenting (and grandparenting) of spiritual children. When we lead someone to Christ, explaining salvation, then praying with them, followed by mentoring them, we become a type of parent to them. One dear friend of mine calls me her “spiritual mother,” a great honor.

If she then leads others to Christ by her testimony, those people become her spiritual children and a type of spiritual grandchildren to me. And if they, in turn, lead others, my friend becomes the spiritual grandparent.

I understand that God has no grandchildren, because he’s the Father to all believers. But by bearing witness to the reality of his love, our spiritual family can grow by generations, having nothing to do with biology and everything to do with divinity. We can delight in those generational grands that become related to us through salvation, continuing our encouraging and nurturing right into eternity.

Heaven's gateAnd then, just imagine the thrill of standing at heaven’s gate, welcoming our spiritual children and grandchildren as they arrive! That’s a jewel-studded crown of glory every one of us will be overjoyed to wear.

 

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