To the Parents of My Grandchildren

Meditations on Some Parents of the Bible for Christian Parents
By a grandfather — G. C. Willis.
Third Edition August 1996
Bible Light Publishers, P.O. Box 442, Fo Tan, New Territories, Hong Kong.
ISBN 962-7458-14-8

Section 1. Introduction (this file)
Section 2. The Old Testament
Section 3. The New Testament
Section 4. Exhortations to Parents  

Preface

To Christian Parents, Beloved in the Lord:

I think I may address you thus, as these pages are only meant for those who belong to Him, and that bond makes us all one family: all dear to each other. So bear with an old man who would like to pass on to some of the younger members of that great Family a few of the lessons he has tried to learn from the merry children who once were in his home, but now are far away.

Perhaps I should have said they were lessons which our Divine Teacher (Matthew 23:8, New Translation) had sought to teach through His Holy Word; and that also would be true. It may be that our Lord uses both His Word, and the children, to teach these lessons truly; so that we do not know them in theory only.

You have seen a child that finds some lesson terribly hard: perhaps the teacher has turned it back more than once, and all the page is blotted with tears before it is learned. Some of these pages have been blotted with tears; and I am not at all sure that all the lessons that the writer is trying to pass on to you have been learned.

Do not think he writes because of any imagined superiority. He does not: some of these lessons have caused so much pain that finally in anguish of heart he put the whole thing away, and determined to have nothing more to do with it. And there it lay for several years, like a discouraged child that hides its exercise book because it shows so plainly the blots, mistakes and failures.

But it would not be hidden like that, so finally he had to get it out and try to finish it up. You will not read far before you will guess that these pages were written only for certain special eyes to see: eyes that many a time have "looked love to eyes that met again;" and so you must pardon the freedom and intimacy of the style; for nothing has been changed. This little book would not be offered to you now, but for the fact that, as "our beloved brother Paul," puts it: — "I am a debtor...."

We are in the "perilous times" foretold in the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:1); and it is not easy to bring up our children. The Lord Himself says:  "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me." (Isa. 1:2) Alas, there is that in the hearts of our children (and in us also), that causes them naturally to turn in the wrong direction; and only the grace of God is sufficient for the parents' need. Thank God, He reckons our children "holy", (1 Cor. 7:14); and He says, "My Grace is sufficient." If these pages should prove an encouragement, or a signpost of warning, to some young parent, how thankful I would be! May the God of Hope be with you, dear fellow-parent.

"A Grandfather"

Preface to Second Edition

It is with surprise, and gratitude to our Lord, that we find another edition of this little book is required.

One reader says it is a sad book, and I fear that is true, but is not Man's history, from Adam onwards, a sad story of failure, sin and sorrow? But the darker this part of the picture, the brighter shine the love and grace and faithfulness of God. So it is hoped that amidst the sad failure, our eyes may be turned to 'Him Who Faileth Not', and we may be encouraged to count on His faithfulness for the responsibility that is ours.

God is still 'the God of all Encouragement' (2 Corinthians 1:3, New Translation), and even if the pages that follow must solemnize and sadden us, it is hoped they may also encourage the heart of every reader.

Introduction

Long years ago, when you were young, on my way to work I used to pass a poor wreck of a house. It was empty as long as I knew it, and as the years passed the sight became increasingly sad. It was a large, square, red-brick house, standing alone in what once had been nice grounds. It looked homelike and comfortable in the days when I first knew it, even though it was empty. But the picture of it that comes back to my mind, as I last saw it, is very different. The fence was broken down, the verandah fallen to pieces, the windows gone, the doors and outhouses broken — a sad, sad ruin.

But the saddest part of all was the fact that this house had once been the old family homestead of a wealthy, prosperous, prominent Christian business man. Everybody had known him as a Christian man; and now this was the sad monument to the world by which he was remembered.

The family was an even sadder wreck than the home; too sad for me to try and tell the story.

You may guess that many a time as I passed that house the question would come to my mind, if not to my lips, "How is it that a family, known as a Christian family, can come to this?" And some of you, as I looked tremblingly at the years ahead, would lie heavily on my heart.

I turned to my Bible, the dear old Book that always gives comfort in sorrow, peace in anxiety, and instruction for our ignorance. I found in that Book a vast amount of teaching on that unspeakably important subject. I do not suggest that I even began to dig deeply in the mine of wealth at our hand, nor did I follow (as I earnestly wish I had) the teachings I found there. These teachings are presented in a variety of ways — by example, by warning, by precept.

Now, my dear ones, you are no longer "the little ones" you then were: but instead you have "little ones" of your own, to train up for your Lord and Master. Will you allow the grandfather of these "little ones" to pass on to their parents something of what he has gleaned while meditating on the joys and sorrows of the parents we find set before us in the Scriptures?

As you know, he does not write because of any eminent success he has had in bringing up his own children, rather must he plead, with David, "Although my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow." (2 Samuel 23:5). But in spite of all his failure, he can bear witness to the great grace of God and His unfailing patience, even in this heavy responsibility.

I suppose any God-fearing parent must be deeply solemnized as he ponders such stories as Adam, whose eldest son was a murderer; Noah, some of whose posterity still lie under a curse; Abraham, whose eldest son has ever been, and still is, an implacable enemy, and a source of sorrow and distress, to the people of God; Moses, whose grandson was probably one of the first, if not the very first, idolatrous priest in Israel; David, and his family sorrows; and as we consider Josiah's family, it is enough to break any parent's heart.

So our hearts cry out for an answer to the question that will arise, "Why should such good men have such wicked offspring?" We cannot but ask in our hearts, even if our lips refuse to frame the question; "Is there any way I may be sure that my family does not follow in this sad, sad pathway?"

These questions have often been in the heart of the writer, and perhaps you also have been troubled with similar thoughts. He would therefore seek, by God's grace and help, to point out some of the answers that the Word of God seems to give to these questions. And as that question again echoes back to us, "Why should such honoured servants of the Lord have such evil children?" the Word of God seems to echo back another question (as it so often does) in answer to our own, "Is there not a cause?"

Is there not always a cause for a wicked child to a godly parent? The Scriptures seem to tell us that there is such a cause. These sad stories are not recorded in the Bible to weaken the hands of Christian parents today, but rather as warnings to tell us of the lurking dangers in our own family life; and if we will take heed to these warnings, we will be forever thankful to the One who gave them. Sad, sad indeed is the Lord's complaint of some: "To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the Word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it." (Jeremiah 6:10). And what is the remedy if we feel that such is our condition? I suppose we find the remedy in Jeremiah 4:4. "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart." I suppose that the exhortation to "circumcise ourselves to the Lord" means to cut off those "lusts of the flesh" which so easily ensnare us. As we care for our children, even though we do not so care for ourselves, yet for our children's sake, even if not for the higher motive, for the Lord's sake, we dare not go on without heeding this exhortation; we dare not risk letting our ears become heavy so that these most solemn warnings are not heard. Oh, my children, let me plead with you, at any cost, to hearken and to heed these warnings from our Heavenly Father's Word: for my heart trembles, if you should not, that the day may come when with broken heart you would give all you possess to have this opportunity once again, but it is passed, and does not return. I have seen the anguish of a broken-hearted parent gazing in agony on a wayward child, knowing full well that the cause was his own careless walk, perhaps in a path trodden years before. But "whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap", is a saying that is most awfully true between ourselves and our children.