One of the most important things you can do to leave a godly legacy to your grandchildren is be present in their lives. That takes time fleshing out biblical principles through both your example and your words.
For my six grandchildren, love is spelled T-I-M-E (touch, investing in their interests, making memories together, and eating fun foods). Quantity time opens the door to quality time. In other words, the more time you spend with your grandchildren, the more opportunity for the spontaneous “gems” to appear. Gems come in the form of questions about God, about life, about friends, and a hundred other topics on a kid’s heart. What a treat to discuss issues in the context of what we are doing . . . as we go, as Deuteronomy 6 instructs.
I pray with and for my grandchildren. I pass along family stories that illustrate trust in God and biblical values, like honesty, hard work, and service to others. I use creation to remind them of God’s attributes—His faithfulness, as sure as the rising of the sun; His gentleness and compassion, as evidenced in the nursing lamb; His attention to detail, as shown in the design of an insect wing. Even catching fireflies on a summer’s eve can provoke application. As the bugs flicker on a dark night, I remind my grandchildren that Jesus is the light of the world. Then we talk about what that means. As we lie on the trampoline and gaze at the stars, we discuss how great God is, that He’s named each star. That as much as He delights in the stars, He cares even more about us, His crowning creation. That as the stars bring God glory, so can we by loving Him and sharing Him with others.
Indeed, I believe the secret to leaving a legacy of faith to our grandchildren is by following God’s instruction in Deuteronomy 6:7-9: Impress (God’s commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (NIV).
With the convenience of the internet, a plethora of ideas is no more than a click away. You can Google any topic and come up with a craft, a fun sheet, or activity to reinforce the biblical truth you want to impress on your grandchildren. Even items you have around the house can intrigue little ones.
The other day, while rummaging through my dresser, I unearthed an old picture that used to hang on my bedroom wall when I was a child. After Mama would send me drudging up the steps for naptime, I’d lie on my bed gazing at this picture of trees accompanied by the poem by Joyce Kilmer titled “Trees.” That poem sparked in me a lifelong love for trees and for lovely writing.
I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
I shared this memento with my grandchildren while they ate breakfast. I told them that years after I first read this poem, I discovered Psalm, chapter one in my Bible, a favorite scripture passage to this day. The verses tell about the key to happiness. When a person refuses to follow a bad crowd or join in with those who make fun of God and His Word, s/he is choosing God’s path to blessing. When s/he spends time reading and thinking about the scriptures, s/he will be “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:3, NIV). A short, but powerful lesson for a six and four year old who are learning about God’s ways.
Instill within them a heart for others. Give them a job to do when they visit you, so that they understand the value of hard work, not just fun and games all the time. When children are young, they actually enjoy helping in the kitchen, scrubbing the sink, stirring the pancake mix, or setting the table. They like to know they are making a contribution to the household. Seize the moments to teach them the importance and value of work. As Proverbs 12:27 says, “The precious possession of a man is diligence.”
One of my grandchildren is currently raising money to build a well in Africa. She’s only six, but she wants to do whatever she can to provide water for thirsty children. So, she sells lemonade, water bottles, and other items with the help of her parents and grandparents.
Take baked goods to neighbors, especially those who are sick or less fortunate. This is a wonderful way to grow a hospitable heart within your grandchildren.
Open up the family trunk and share stories surrounding the items. Kids love family stories! And the applications are multitude!
With a little thought and creativity, you can come up with ideas that will reinforce the godly legacy you desire to leave your grandchildren. More than anything else, they crave your time and attention. It’s really that simple, no matter what age they are.
(“Trees,” published in Trees and Other Poems by Joyce Kilmer. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1914).
Eileen Rife, author of the Born for India trilogy, enjoys toasting marshmallows, blowing bubbles, swimming, making crafts, reading, sharing family stories, and cuddling with her six grandchildren. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com, www.guardyourmarriage.com, www.guardyourmarriage.blogspot.com.