I’ve been a “Papa” for more than a decade now, but I am still getting used to the idea. Most days (there are exceptions) I don’t feel old enough to have grandkids moving into their teen years. But then a day of “up and downs,” working in the yard, provides a reality check. Time marches on.
The other day when Lauren and I were reflecting on life, talking about our grandkids and praying for each of them, it occurred to me that they have now become the focal point of our prayer and discipleship efforts. In thinking about our part in Christ’s kingdom purpose, we reflected on the seasons of our lives: the first, yielding our hearts to Christ and finding a like-minded life partner, the second, raising our kids to know Christ and seeing them get launched into lives of their own, and now the third, partnering with our kids in praying for and spiritually investing in the children God is entrusting to them.
I recognize that every individual’s life story is unique. Not everyone’s seasons will look just like ours. Not all will marry. Not all will have children. Not all children and grandchildren will follow Christ. But God’s call on all our lives is first to follow Jesus, then to call others to follow Him with us, and then to encourage those others to call others to follow Jesus with us too. That’s generational discipleship, both within our own families and without.
It strikes me that with only three years to make known the eternal life-and-death message of the gospel, Jesus regularly took time to bless children and to instruct His disciples about the priority of children in His kingdom. Mark’s gospel records, “And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them (Mk. 10:13-16).”
I have no idea how long Lauren and I have for this last season of our lives. God promises none of our earthly tomorrows. But we recognize that our primary investment in Christ’s kingdom will likely be made through our ongoing influence in the lives of our kids and grandkids. (Face Time, texting, Instagram and prayer are great tools for bridging our geographical divide.)
All that being said, Lauren and I treasure this season as an opportunity to serve with our Sanctuary Church family as well. Here again, I believe that our most strategic investment is being made in the lives of our church family’s kids and grandkids. And it’s here that I want to encourage you to keep investing with us as well. Whether or not you have a family with children of your own, God has brought you into a church family with lots of opportunities for loving and serving others’ kids. Vacation Bible School is just ahead on the horizon, Children’s Church is even now looking for a few more willing workers. A young family with children would love an invitation from you to have you share a meal with them. Our AWANA ministry will soon be looking to fill leadership roles for the Fall. The most enduring spiritual investment you can make can be made in the hearts of these children.
So, what does your spiritual family legacy look like? Where are you encouraging others to know Jesus and to follow Him? The “kids” God brings your way may be in your own family, in your neighborhood, or in our larger church family. They may now be grown and have kids of their own. God brings these children across our paths for an eternal reason…so that we can love them and lead them to Him. Every season is a good season for loving kids with the Good News of God’s love. “And Jesus took them in His arms and began blessing them.” Would you join me in seeing this season of our lives as a God-ordained time to love children with the gospel of Jesus? What better investment could we possibly make with the time and the resources God has given to us?