If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves? [Psalm 127:1-2 (MSG)]
Old friends were in town and several couples had gotten together for dinner. The men (now all retired and grandpas) got to talking. Instead of talking about work, which is what they used to do, or sports, which they still do, they started talking about their various grandchildren. I loved hearing them go on about teething, toys, Disney movies and the various cute sayings and fantastic achievements of their beloved grands. In short, they sounded just like my women friends and I did some forty plus years ago when we spoke about our children. These men clearly loved the grandpa gig and they chatted about it with the same enthusiasm they used to save for their golf games and the play-offs.
This group of men is from a generation of fathers that weren’t very “hands-on” in the way of baby and child care when their children were young. Parental roles were more defined then: our husbands were the breadwinners and we women were the homemakers, in charge of the house and children. Don’t get me wrong! None of them were neglectful; they are men of faith and all were attentive and loving fathers. They were, however, extremely busy in furthering their careers and attaining financial security for their families. Good fathers all, they just weren’t as involved in the diapers, doctor’s appointments, feeding, classroom parties, lessons and homework as many of today’s dads are. Their own children had done all of the same things their grandchildren were doing, but this was the first time these olds guys were taking part in it. I’m glad they all have grandchildren so they can now experience some of the joy they missed the first time around. Grandchildren are, indeed, God’s reward for growing older (and for not killing one’s teenagers, but that’s another meditation!)
Everything turned out well for these men’s families; it didn’t for many. These men have been blessed with a second chance; not all will be. We need to make sure none of us get so busy building our houses that we neglect building a home for those in it. Unless God is part of the building and guarding of our home and family, we will have nothing. It’s fine to be ambitious, but not to the extent that our spirit, body or family is neglected. Financial security is meaningless if the home life suffers. What good are accomplishments, honors, wealth or fame if we lose our souls, physical health, or families? If we don’t trust our lives to God, we will be anxious and have no rest. If we trust him, he will surely provide and give us the rest and peace we so desire.
Children are, indeed, a gift from God. And grandchildren are the frosting on His cake!
Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping them all in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life. [From “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas” by James Patterson]