by Vicki Huffman
In the U.S., September 11, 2011 is National Grandparents’ Day. It’s a good time to stop and pay tribute to our grandparents—or their memories.
As children we may have heard it said of ourselves, “You look just like your mother” or “you’re the spitting image of your father.” But some studies indicate that more physical and personality traits are passed directly from grandparent to grandchild than from parent to child.
We bend over a newborn’s crib and comment that the baby has his father’s hands or his mother’s eyes. It’s easier to see the physical characteristics that are passed down from parent to child than from grandparent to grandchild. That is partly because the grandparent’s features have been altered by age. If Grandfather’s hands were not gnarled and age-spotted
and Grandmother’s eyes were not crinkled and hidden behind glasses, we might recognize the resemblance more easily.
Family resemblances go much more than skin-deep. With few exceptions, most people’s lives are shaped by the families from which they come. Many of us are what we are today because as children we had at least one grandparent who took a special interest in us. (My maternal grandmother filled this role.) Grandparents were seldom too busy to read to us or take us on walks or play games with us. And there were serious times when they shared
their age-earned wisdom and values with us.
A famous sociological study done on the descendants of two American families included the offspring of the famous preacher JonathanEdwards. Edwards’ father was a minister and his mother was a clergyman’s daughter. Among Jonathan Edwards’ descendants were: 14 presidents of colleges; more than 100 college professors, more than 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 60 doctors, more than 100 clergymen, missionaries, and theology professors, and 60 authors.
The other study was done on the Max Jukes family. Their history was delved into in detail. It was said of them that they couldn’t be made to study and wouldn’t work. It was estimated that they cost the state of New York $1 million. Pauperism, crime, and insanity ran rampant in the family. Out of 1200 known Jukes descendants: 310 were professional paupers, 440 were physically wrecked by their own wickedness, 60 were habitual thieves, 130 were convicted criminals, 55 were victims of impurity, only 20 ever learned a trade (10 of them learned that trade in a state prison), and 7 were murderers.
The differences between these two families involved more than their genes. It involved their homes. The Edwards family’s godly influence and love of learning was reproduced in their children, who reproduced it in their children, and so on. The Jukes family’s attitudes were also passed down, whether they wanted them to be or not.
Personal faith can’t be inherited. It’s been rightly said that God has no grandchildren. We each come to Him as children. But a godly grandparent can be used by God to touch the heart of a grandchild. Paul wrote Timothy: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which fist lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…”
(2 Tim. 1:5-6 NIV).
If you had a grandparent like Timothy’s who was faithful to help ignite a spark of spiritual interest in you, thank God for that grandparent. But even if you had grandparents who were not the examples they should have been, you can have a godly lineage—starting with you. You can be like Abraham, whose ancestors were idolaters but who believed God who
promised: “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me
and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your
God and the God of your descendants after you: (Gen. 17:7).
Jonathan Edwards’s family became a dynasty of faithfulness. Your family can too.