I have always wished I could have known more about my father and my grandfather. Both of them died before I ever had a chance to sit down with them and ask questions about their lives. I do remember my Grandpa Rice, but he died when I was very young. My father and I spent some good time together when I was a boy, but he was killed in an automobile accident not long after I reached adulthood. I never got to hear his life story in his own words.
I do have a few mementos of his life however, which have helped me understand him better—his U.S. Navy uniform, letters that he wrote to my mom during WWII, his Bible with notes written in the margins, and some of his carpenter’s tools that were left to me. His brother, my Uncle Arthur Rice, was always willing to tell me stories about my dad and I always loved hearing them. They gave me great insight into my father’s life and helped me understand a great deal about my own life.
My brother and I went to a Rice family reunion about 25 years ago where one of our cousins created a giant family tree that was posted on the wall. During the reunion, members of the family shared stories about the branches of the tree they were from. My big take-away from that experience was that I come from a long line of godly people. I’m so thankful that my grandparents and greatgreat- grandparents were faithful to Christ. It certainly explains why I am who I am and why I do what I do.
I’m now a grandparent and I’m hoping that the legacy that was passed on to me will be passed on to my children and my grandchildren. But I also realize that I can’t just hope this will happen. I must be more intentional about telling them my story as well as God’s big story.
How can you tell your story to your grandchildren in a way that’s both appropriate and meaningful? If you are like me, you don’t get to spend a lot of time with your grandchildren because they either live far away or have busy lives of their own. But there are many ways to have good faith conversations with your grandchildren even when you can’t have them often.
When our grandchildren are staying with us, I have found that one of the best times to have a faith conversation is while tucking them into bed. All children love to stall for a while before the lights are turned out. That’s a good time to tell them stories about my childhood, about their parents’ childhoods, or stories of God’s faithfulness from the Bible. During our prayer time, they can hear the desires of my heart and learn how to pray themselves. That’s also a good time to ask God’s blessing on them and to pronounce a blessing on them myself.
You can also tell your story and God’s story to grandchildren who live far away. Writing letters is still a good way to communicate with grandchildren. It may be old school, but that’s what they expect from grandparents and they do love to get letters in the mail. You can also use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to send text messages and emails and have video conversations at an appointed time during the week. There are resources available online such as LuvYa Reader (luvyareader.com) which allow you to send Bible stories to your grandchildren by email. When the child opens it up and listens online, it’s your voice doing the reading!
We grandparents are in a prime position to inspire and instill faith in our grandchildren because we have been given an immense amount of love for them. That gives us an immense amount of influence. It’s our job to leverage that love and influence so our grandchildren will understand who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going. You can be assured that they will always be ready to listen to what you have to say.