Recently, my wife, kids and I spent the weekend hanging out with relatives a few hours away. It’s always a unique experience because it allows us to bridge the generational gap, as we spend time with multiple age groups from many different seasons in life. It’s a good time to step back and evaluate life with a multi-generational, long-term perspective.
It’s also a time to spend multiple hours in the car with three boys under seven, including one who’s old enough to scream off and on the whole way but not quite old enough to talk. At least we’ve figured out where all our parent’s gray hairs came from—as well as their orders to go potty before getting in the car. If only we’d had DVD players as kids.
So there we were, young adults with our little children, right next to my parents, our 80-year-old grandparents and even our 101-year-old great grandma. It’s a pretty impressive thing to have first and second cousins, great aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, children and great grandchildren all under one roof. Five generations under one roof is quite a sight these days.
At one point someone handed me a picture of my great grandfather. The photo was faded and lacked color. I surmise my great grandparents weren’t much older in the photo than I am now, judging by the two youngsters sitting on each of their laps and the youth in their faces. I wondered what they’d think if they could see everyone now.
Their children went on to become nurses and a doctor, and from them came a whole family of engineers, church leaders, city workers, business consultants, mothers and even a writer. I wonder if my grandfather, who was just an ordinary guy trying to provide for his five kids, could have imagined what kind of impact he’d have on the world.
It also makes me think about our society, which doesn’t appear to be in real hot shape. There’s so much I can’t change about the world. I can’t stop the tidal wave of foolish living, the kind that celebrates rampant immorality and the destruction of society with cheers of “Free at Last!” No, like Lot, I can often feel overwhelmed by the darkness of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But like Abraham, who stood in a barren wilderness and listened to God’s promise that it’d one day be bustling with his fruitful descendants, I too must trust the generational promises of God, for “the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:39). Like Abraham, I have to trust that as I faithfully parent and raise godly offspring, carrying out my vocation at home and in the world, he will use them as salt and light in the world to bring about his kingdom (Mt 5:13).
What I’d say to the Christian who’s eager to change the world is this: if at all possible, get married, start a family and raise godly offspring. Bring them into the Lord’s service and sit them down at His table. Trust in God’s promises, and teach your kids to do the same. Teach them that every square inch of life—whether in the sciences or in literature or art or politics or wherever—belongs to King Jesus, and over all he says, “Mine.” Teach them that God created the world and guides it still. Teach them that though Adam fell in sin, Christ bore the wrath due to man on a cross, died and rose again for our justification. Teach them that the King is going to return.
Teach them that morality is not derived from a personal decision or desire, but the standard of God’s holy and righteous character, which is plainly taught in Scripture. Teach them that no matter how many times our corrupt, unjust, unrighteous, God-hating politicians and leaders tell us to follow them down the paths strewn with murdered babies and homosexual debaucheries—and who tell us to leave God out of it—we will serve the Lord and Judge of the universe, and we will always call them to account.
What good would it do to gain the whole world and lose the soul of my own children? There are over 200 million Americans that don’t give a rip what I think, but my kids hang on my every word. If you really want to change the world, change them. They’re clay waiting for a sculptor’s hands, gifted to us for a short time by God. Listen, if the secular government and the God haters have made it their mission to win your kids, at least heed the message from them—nothing matters for the future more than our kids.
As I sat and watched my great grandma, half-asleep but eating the food her son gently scooped into her mouth, I thought, God is faithful. Her skin is so thin and frail now, and her body nearly broken. She only has one leg left, and her hands are clenched permanently with arthritic stiffness. But this little old 100-pound lady, who carried out the often thankless task of raising a family, was a mighty instrument in God’s hand. The world is a different place because of one faithful woman whom the world will never know.
So start small. Address the acre on which God has placed you. Give your life to your children, and spend yourself to show them the covenant love of Jesus. If you don’t have children, find the ones who so desperately need you. Find them in the church or find them on the streets of despair, but find them. Like Abraham and all the saints, trust God to turn your mustard seed of faithfulness into a kingdom of righteous fruit. And may you and your generations be blessed.