Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL

"Come As You Are .... Leave Better!"

Grandparents Day

Grandparents Day

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TRULY GRAND PARENTS
Based on Ruth 4:13-17
Among the many things that makes man unique in creation is the presence of, and the influence of, grandparents. In the vegetable world, "The bursting buds of spring push off the last lingering leaves of the previous season, and thus decline to have anything to do with the generation that preceded them, to say nothing of the generation before that. Among animals and birds a certain affection is sometimes found for fathers and mothers, but of the grandfather and grandmother never a trace. But a man is so much greater.

The impact of grandpas and grandmas in history is beyond calculation. Most of the famous people of the Bible from Adam and Eve on were grandparents. Often the grandparents played a key role, if not the major role, in the way history went.

In Genesis 5 , we get an account of a man named Enoch, the son of Jared and the Father of Methuselah. Methuselah the father of Lamech and Lamech the father of Noah. You better believe that Enoch walked close to God and because he did Noah’s father Lamech expressed that faith by the name he gave his son. Noah means rest and it was from this seed, the seed of Seth, that Noah came.

Hezekiah was one of the best kings God's people ever had, his father was Ahaz, who was one of the worst they ever had. But his grandfather was Jotham, and he did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord. Hezekiah took after his grandfather rather than his father, and the result was victory for the kingdom of God.

Because of the powerful influence of grandparents there is always hope even if one generation goes astray, because the next generation can be brought back, and in that lies the glory of grandparents. They often bridge the gap between parents and children, and they make major differences in the course of history. The relationship of grandparents and grandchildren is so unique because it is so full of hope and expectation. This explains the mystery of how a boy who is not good enough for your daughter can father such marvelous children. And it explains why the girl unworthy of your son can bear such brilliant beings as your grandchildren.

It is a strange question to ask, but the book of Ruth makes us ask it: Is a baby that is born more a child or a grandchild? In other words, who is to be more congratulated, the parents or the grandparents? For some reason the book of Ruth votes for the grandparents, and it makes this passage one of the most powerful exaltations of a grandparent you will find anywhere in human literature. It is almost as if the goal of this book was to come to a happy ending with grandma Naomi holding grandson Obed in her lap, and everybody singing her praises.

Note how suddenly the story of Ruth and Boaz comes to an end. Their romance has dominated the stage for most of the book, but their wedding and 9 months of pregnancy, and their whole life together is wrapped up rapidly in verse 13. When Ruth gave birth to that baby boy, she and Boaz left the stage, and the spotlight focuses on grandma Naomi for the closing scenes of the story. There is not one more scene about the parents, for the star now is grandma. All of the praise and rejoicing now revolve around her. Naomi has a kinsman-redeemer. Naomi has a comfort for her old age. Naomi has a grandson, and they say she has a son as well!

This radical removal of the parents, and this thrusting of grandma and grandchild front and center is a powerful revelation of just how important a role grandparents can play in the life of a grandchild. Every person in the blood line from Adam to Christ was a grandparent. The genealogy that ends this book is a list of people all of whom became grandparents. Obed, the baby of Ruth [not Babe Ruth!], was the grandfather of King David. The book ends with a special emphasis on grandparents, and with such a deliberate focus on Naomi that I do not know of anywhere in the Bible where you can find a better text for Grandparent’s Day.

The book of Ruth only exists because all of these people were grandparents and great grandparents of David, the great king of God's people. God is into genealogies and roots. And so God is into grandparents.

How awesome is this: that even parents who fail their children can become such successful grandparents that the family tree is healed, and restored as one that bears fruit for the kingdom of God. There are many ways in which the role of grandparents is superior to the role of parents. We can't cover all that is precious about the grandparent-grandchild relationship, but we can look at the two R's of this relationship suggested by our text. Let’s dig deeper now into this great blessing God has given…not to animals, not to angels, but to man. The first R is…

I. ROOTS

The book of Ruth exists to trace the roots of David the king of Israel, and there is no way to do this apart from getting into the lives of grandparents. This is true for all of us. It was true for the only man in all of history who had two letters written to him which became a part of God's Word to the world. Those two letters are I and II Timothy. One of the things we know about Timothy: is that his Christian faith had its roots in his grandmother. Paul tells it clearly in II Tim. 1:5-
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.

Paul made a major point of the roots of Timothy’s faith, for the fact is, what the grandparents were makes a big difference in the majority of lives. There are millions of ungodly grandparents who make their grandchildren like them, but Christian grandparents do the same, and give the faith of their grandchildren deep roots.

It is hard for me to imagine that I would be the person I am without the influence of my grandparents. The older I get the more I realize how important roots are, for had I not had the roots I had, I do not know where I might be in my relationship to Christ. I belonged to a greater family of people than just mom and dad, and that is important for establishing identity.

Margaret Mead, a noted anthropologist, has said in her article Grandparents and Educators: "Somehow we have to get the older people, grandparents, widows and widowers, spinsters and bachelors, back close to children if we are to restore a sense of community, a knowledge of the past, and a sense of future to today's children."

Grandparents can be just that: parents who are grand. They do not have to be the disciplinarians of life, and so they are more free to be the teachers of values. They have opportunities to talk and share in ways that parents often do not have, or do not take advantage of, because they do not see from the same perspective as do grandparents.

Grandparents are often the key to a child's self-esteem. Children are difficult and life is complex, and often parents give most of their energy to discipline, and only a fraction to love. This is where the grandparents can add the ingredient that makes the family balanced. In troubled families they are even more important.

Dr. R. Loften Hudson of the American Association For Marriage And Family Therapy tells of one of his clients who was working through her emotional problems. He asked, "Who was the biggest influence in your growing up? I don't know who the significant others were in your life with your father gone most of the time, and your mother running around and getting drunk. Who did you look up to?"

"That's easy," she replied. "It was my grandfather and grandmother. I didn't spend much time with them because my mother hated them. They were daddies parents. But they loved me and told me so." Dr. Hudson said, "How could they have influenced you much when you seldom saw them?" She responded, "Oh, they believed in me. They made me believe in myself. I remember once my grandfather talked to me and said 'Ellie, I want to tell you something. You don't have to let your parent’s problems ruin you. There is something great in you. There is no telling what you can become. The world out there needs you.' I shall never forget that speech. He made me believe in myself."

Ill.—G’pa a very successful salesman [wishe they could be here…he could sell an ice maker to Eskimos!]/told me he envied me because I had a better product…I am selling God!

There is a powerful influence of even a rare opportunity to build up your grandchildren's self-esteem. Grandparents provide the opportunity for grandchildren to develop roots, and establish an identity that is not limited to the present, which may be far from ideal.
The next R we want to look at is…

II. RENEWAL

The grandchild-grandparent relationship is a two way street. The child has just as great an impact on the adult as the adult on the child. In verse 15 the women say of baby Obed, "He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age." This little guy was to be to Naomi all that Geritol is today, and more. There is something about a grandchild that can change the whole psychology of life, and bring hope and joy to the forefront.
Pro. 17:6 records this universal reality: "Children's children are a crown to the aged." Your children may have kept you poor, but their children will make you rich.

Until this scene where Naomi becomes a grandmother her life has been one trial after another. Life has been a burden, and she has suffered sorrow and grief beyond the average. She has suffered the loss of her husband and two sons. She has had to endure the life of poverty and despair. She has had to bear the responsibility of caring for Ruth, and trying to get her established in a home of her own. Naomi has had little joy in this story until this closing scene where she is grandmother. Now it is almost a heavenly scene! All tears are wiped away, and there is a spirit of praise and joy, for now her whole future looks bright, for she has a grandson!

Dr. Lewis A. Coffin in his book The Grandmother Conspiracy wrote, "As soon as a person becomes a grandparent he or she undergoes a radical personality change: stern fathers become cooing grandfathers: harping mothers melt and crawl on the floor, sing lullabies, and cram cookies and cookies and more cookies down their sweet little grandchildren's throats, take them to the ice-cream store, bake cakes and pies for them, and stand back admiringly as their little ones swell…pinch their obese little checks approvingly, and raise cain if anyone tries to interfere!"

They sometimes become a problem to their children because they allow the grandchildren to do what the parents have forbidden.
[ill--?]
The point is, there is a different psychology between grandparents and grandchildren than between parents and children.

The reason grandparents tend to spoil grandchildren is because of this renewal in the minds of the grandparents. They are so grateful for the new joy and pleasure of life that they say thanks by being over indulgent. This makes the grandparent-grandchild relationship one which is dominated by the positive, and it is one of fun. The fun is mutual, for most grandparents get more laughs from their grandchildren than they do from comedians.

It is not all fun, of course. G’parents have to watch grandkids ALMOST fall out of the swing, and almost fall from the monkey bars…ALMOST stumble and almost bash their heads into the concrete or coffee table!

One of the reasons grandparents are often more fun than parents is because they have more time. Parents are so loaded down with responsibility that they do not have the time for fun with their children.

A 9 year old girl has written this description of a grandmother, and it has become a classic.

"A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own…So she likes other people's little girls. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks with the boys and they talk about fishing and tractors and stuff like that.
Grandmas don't have to do anything except be there.
They're old, so they shouldn't play hard or run. It is
enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is and have lots of quarters ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves or caterpillars. They never ever say 'hurry up.' Usually they are fat, but not too fat to tie kid’s shoes.
They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth out. They don't have to be smart, only answer questions like why dogs hate cats and how come God isn't married. They don't talk baby talk like some people do, because it is hard to understand. When they read to us they don't skip pages. Everybody should try to have one, especially if you don't have television, because grandmas are the only grown ups who have got time.”

Time is one of the treasures of life that grandparents have learned to use more wisely. Dale Evans-Rogers wrote a lot about her 16 grandchildren, and her advise is, if you want to establish a warm bond with your grandchildren, get rid of the parents. That is, be alone with your grandchildren.

The relationship of grandparents and grandchildren is like the period of courtship, whereas that of parents and children is more like that of marriage. The first is more dominated by fun, and the second by responsibility, and that is a major reason why there is a different psychology at work.

The evidence is enormous that grandparents are key people in the lives of most children. Grandparents are one of God's major weapons to keep His plan unfolding and progressing. We see it in David's heritage in Ruth, but the stories are endless, and they are going on today in the lives of millions.

Eight year old Ann Johnson wrote this poem which expresses the influence of millions of grandparents on their grandchildren:

My grandma likes to play with God, They have a kind of game. She plants the garden full of seeds,
He sends the sun and rain.
She likes to sit and talk with God, And knows He is right there. She prays about the whole wide world,
Then leaves us in His care.