“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” Psalm 92:14 (NIV).
When my oldest son, who is now 37, was born, my mother put a bumper sticker on her car. The words on the sticker, “If we’d known how much fun grandkids were, we’d had them first,” kind of hurt my feelings at the time. Then, when I became a grandmother in 2004, I understood what my mother meant. Grandchildren are a blessing as we grow older.
Recently, I attended a family funeral with my sons and grandchildren. The funeral was for a nephew, 32, who was killed in a car accident. He was the only biological child of his father. My nephew left behind a 12-year-old son who looks just like him. My heart ached, not only for the parents of my nephew, but for his son. I know the grandson will be a comfort to his grandparents in the coming days and years.
While attending the funeral, my 4-year-old grandson grew weary and wanted me to hold him. He fell asleep but awoke when a 12-minute video highlighting my nephew’s life through photos was shown. As Cash watched the video, I told him about my nephew and said, “Do you know he was your second cousin and what happened to him?” Cash nodded, and then said, “He’s in heaven with Jesus and Moses and the dinosaurs.”
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” Psalm 43:5(NIV).
With the recent unexpected suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams, many in the world struggle to understand what would lead someone, who seemed to have it all, to take his own life. Even though Robin candidly shared his lifelong struggles with depression and addictions, it’s still difficult to comprehend how a funny and kind man would be so desperate to end it all.
For those who saw a comedic genius on stage and in the movies, it might be harder to grasp the pain he often concealed. I recall reading an article about the famous comic about 10 years ago. The article revealed facts about the beloved actor’s childhood. As a child, he was overweight, shy and bullied by others in his class. Comedy became his relief and earned him friends.
Robin’s father, who was a senior executive at Ford Motor Company, was away much of the time and, according to some sources, when the elder Williams was home, the young boy found his father “frightening.” His mother also worked, leaving Robin to be cared for by the maids employed by the family. He claimed his upbringing left him with “an acute fear of abandonment and a condition he described as ‘Love Me Syndrome.’”
“Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it”—Proverbs 22:6 (NIRV).
Although my parents weren’t regular churchgoers, they set an example of helping others. I can also remember my grandparents assisting others, especially my maternal grandmother, who was always baking or cooking and delivering food to others in need. She also shared the produce from her bountiful garden. All set an example for my sister and me.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of working with an 11-year-old boy who was visiting his grandparents for a week. Twice a month, I volunteer at our church’s food pantry. Spencer was helping out—willingly I might add—by straightening and restocking shelves and delivering the baskets of food to the front where those in need were waiting. His gift for organizing was evident after I gave him initial instructions on what needed to be done. I was impressed. How many 11-year-olds want to spend part of their summer vacation helping others?
Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you”—John 15:16 (CEB)
A recent conversation between two of my grandchildren while we were eating supper brought back childhood memories of my own. My youngest grandson, Cash, will be starting school this year. He missed the cut-off date by two days last year, so he’ll probably be one of the older ones in his pre-kindergarten class. I’m guessing he’ll also be one of the tallest as he’s always been big for his age.
As we ate our supper of bacon, eggs, hash browns and biscuits, we began discussing the upcoming school year. Brennan, my oldest grandson who is nine, began to give advice to his younger cousin. The talk turned to bullying when Brennan said, “Cash, if you’re the smallest in your class, people will pick on you.”
My heart went out to him because I knew Brennan spoke from experience. He’s one of the smallest in his class. However, as Brennan began to explain to his cousin how he dealt with bullies, I had to smile. I knew God was working in my grandson’s life because I was seeing evidence of my answered prayers as Brennan spoke. I listened and then said, “Do you know why bullies pick on others, especially smaller people?”
“Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer”—Romans 12:12 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA).
“Ma’am. Excuse me, ma’am.” I turned to seek the direction of the voice. Was someone addressing me? Since the woman behind the voice was the only other person on the sidewalk leading to the door of a local business, I stopped. From her attire, I decided she was probably looking for a handout. I was right, but it wasn’t the usual request.
“Ma’am,” she said again as she approached. “Can I get a cigarette from you?” She looked pitiful. She was walking with a limp and her hands were shaking.
“Sorry, but I don’t smoke,” I replied. I never have but I didn’t tell her that. As I turned to walk away, my first thought was one of judgment—why doesn’t she just quit that nasty habit? Before I had taken another step, I was convicted. When my father was alive, he smoked. He could never quit. I understand the addiction.
Immediately, I lifted the woman up in prayer, saying, “Lord, please deliver her from her nicotine addiction.”
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”—Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV).
What would you tell an atheist if he wanted concrete evidence before he would believe in our Creator God? A video posted on a Facebook page called “Jesus Christ is King,” led me to post the question above on my own page.
Before I posed the question, I viewed the four-minute video called “Dear Mr. Atheist.” After watching it, I started reading the comments from others, left by both believers and nonbelievers. While a few comments of the almost 115,000 were kind, most were not. It was a battle of the believers versus the nonbelievers. Many comments were hate-filled.
As a Christian, I left a cordial comment. An atheist responded to my comment—in a nice way, I might add. When I mentioned to this individual that he might want to read Lee Strobel’s “The Case for a Creator,” he responded with “I will need more than a book for me to believe. Show me the evidence, that’s all I need. Simple, concrete evidence.”
“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?”—Galatians 5:13 (MSG).
Freedom (noun) 1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint; 2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc. 3. the power to determine action without restraint.
Ask someone what the word means to them and you’ll most likely get an answer similar to the following: “It means doing what I want.”
As I reflected on this response, I wondered, “Is that what’s wrong with our world?” Too many people doing what they want, instead of finding true freedom in Christ and doing what the Word calls us to do: “Love others as you love yourself.”
I can’t think of any other word resonating with Americans more than the word “freedom.” Some television commercials claim purchasing their product will set you “free.” When we celebrate our country’s independence, we sing songs of freedom. Politicians know how to use the word to add weight to their campaign or cause.
Yet scripture teaches us the only truly free people in the world are those who have made Christ their Savior and Lord and Master. Jesus Christ said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).