One of the important and essential ‘roles’ of a grandparent is to serve as the History/Story-teller. This means we need to be the ones who pass on the family history; like the time great uncle Joe did something amazing, or the time when great-great-great-great-great grandma journeyed to America. These family ‘stories’ (histories) help give our grandchildren a sense of who they are and where they came from.
It is also essential for grandparents, especially, to be the ones who pass on the true accounts of how God has worked in our lives and the lives of our ancestors. Psalms 78 shows us clearly what happens when the next generation forgets who God is and what He has done. We want our grandchildren to remember so they will know, love, and walk with God throughout their lives.
Joshua understood how important this was. In Joshua 4 the entire nation of Israel had just crossed the Jordan river on dry land, at the height of flood season, because God parted the waters (much like He parted the Red Sea when their ancestors left Egypt). Joshua didn’t want future generations to forget what God did, so he had a leader from each tribe bring a large stone from the bottom of the Jordan River to the shore of the Promised Land. In Joshua 4:5-7 we see the reason for this . . .
“Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.“
Joshua knew how essential it was for future generations to remember. He also knew that to help future generations remember, he had to give to the current generation the responsibility to pass on the history. They needed to tell the true account to future generations.
How long did they have the responsibility to tell what God did? Look at the last word in verse 7: “forever“. We grandparents have this responsibility for as long as we live. We do not get to ‘retire’ from being grandparents. We do not get to ‘retire’ from passing on the true accounts of who God is and how He has worked in our lives.
Consider making your own, ‘stone memorial’ to help your grandchildren remember who God is and how He has worked in your family. You could do this by using actual, palm-size stones. Write the date on one side. On the other draw a picture (stick figures are fine), and write a few words to show what God did – how He worked in your life.
When they’re done, put them in a basket or container and place in your living room where your grandchildren will see them and ask what they mean. Add to them as God works in your life, and ask your grandchildren and children to do the same. It will become a basket of blessing as you all are able to see how God has worked in your lives!
You can do the same type of thing with a memory book. Make a journal where you record what God has done and invite your family to add to the pages. Put it in a prominent place in your home, so when people ask what it is about, you are able to share how God has worked in your life and the lives of your family through the ages.
You could do both. The important thing is to do something. Claim your role, your responsibility and your great joy at being the person who records and passes on the history of how God worked and continues to work in your family! Do not let your grandchildren forget! You are a “bridge”, of sort, from the past to the present so your grandchildren do not forget. Remember and share, forever!
This is why the Legacy Coalition exists – to help churches help grandparents know how to pass on a legacy of faith by encouraging and equipping them to do this as well. You’ll learn more about the Legacy Coalition at this link.
So, what do you do to pass on the history of your family and the true accounts of how God has worked, and continues to do so, in your own life to your grandchildren? Do you see the importance of your being a ‘bridge’ from the past in your family. Do you understand how God has worked as part of this role? Why, or why not? What do you consider to be the role of grandma (or grandpa) in passing on the history?
Lynda has three sweet rascal grandsons who make her heart happy! She is the author of Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love, It Is Impossible to Spoil Grandchildren and Science, the Bible & Fun – a curriculum with 52 weeks of Bible learning and fun for grandparents and grandchildren. She also writes the blog, grandma’s cookie jar. Lynda is a Senior Writer and Editor for the Legacy Coalition.