About 2 years ago one of our grandsons, 6 year old Henry, asked Kathy and me a question after the worship service. “Can we come to your house today?” What a wonderful privilege to have all our children and grandchildren living so close to us. And, what a blessing that our grandchildren know our home and enjoy visiting. We are truly very richly blessed. However, Kathy had to tell Henry, “I’m sorry, Henry. We have a Church Council meeting today.” So Henry couldn’t visit after church. Neither could any of our other 5 grandchildren visit that day. Kathy and I love our Lord. We cherish our church, and the opportunity to serve our Lord. Yet, as retirement approached we promised ourselves and others we would have more time to spend with our grandchildren, with our children, and with each other. However, after retirement we left town to get out of the way. So, while part of the goal for retirement was to spend time with our family, then because of traveling, we were unable to spend that time with our Alaska family.
Nevertheless, during our time in Florida I had another opportunity to spend time with family. All 4 of my siblings live in Florida, and we gathered together a number of times. In addition, my brother David has 5 grandchildren about the same age as my own grandkids. While in Florida I got to spend time with all of them, and with many other nieces. In fact, while in Florida I had the opportunity to take all four of David’s grandsons fishing. My brother, Stephen, and I took David’s grandson, Nathan, fishing on the Suwannee River. We caught a mudfish that day. I also took Jonathan and Matthew fishing separately on the Suwannee. Jonathan had a lot of bites, but he didn’t catch any fish. When I took Matthew fishing the river was very high, we only got two bites and neither of us caught any fish. Finally, I took Jayden fishing on Grandin Lake. Jayden caught a bass, his first fish ever! Jayden asked me, “So, I’m the only one of the cousins who caught a fish?” These fishing trips may have seemed just like another outdoor outing, but they were really much more. By sharing this time together we built relationships with one another. I got to know my nephews and they got to know me a little better. We learned to trust and appreciate one another for who we are. Also, these nephews of mine may also now listen a little more closely when I share important values of life, or faith. People are more likely to listen when they know you care about them and when they respect you.
There are many verses in Scripture where God calls us to share our faith with others. But, in Deuteronomy parents are specifically instructed to share the word of God with their children. Listen to these words which God inspired Moses to write. 18 “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-22) (Similar guidance from our Lord is also given in other verses of Scripture. See, for example, Deuteronomy 6: 5-7, Proverbs 22:6, and Ephesians 6:1-4.) God wants parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, to teach the young people in their families about our Lord and His love for them. He wants us to teach them about Jesus.
So, Kathy and I are home in Alaska. We fulfilled our 14 days in quarantine and we are now able to spend time with family and friends. In fact, on Tuesday night our daughter, Mary, and our son, Andy, visited at our home. Andy’s children, Jackson and Kendall, also spent time with us. There are lots of ways to build relationships with others. But on Tuesday night I told Jackson and Kendall, “I’ll be going fishing and camping this summer. I’m hoping to have time to take you with me. Maybe we can catch some trout like last summer. Or, maybe you can even catch a salmon.”
A parent, or grandparent, naturally wants to give good things to their children. But, the best and most important gift we can give is the fullness of life God gives in this world, and the eternal life in heaven which we receive through our Savior, Jesus. This blessing of life is best shared when others know that we love and care about them, and when they respect us. But, that’s also the way it is for us with our Heavenly Father. When we know the Creator and Lord of all loves us, that He even gave His Son for us, and that He rules over everything for the good of His children, then we are more likely to listen to Him. We listen because Ruler of all truly does love us.
Of course, I like to remember the words of Peter beside the Sea of Galilee after Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps you also know Peter’s words and the response of the other disciples just before the risen Jesus appears to them.. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (John 21:3) It’s even acceptable not to catch fish. You see, Peter and his fellow disciples were building relationships!