My grandfather died on 30 December 1964. I was seven and a half years old. My parents, my sister and I had travelled to England to stay with my grandparents for Christmas. Granddad had been taken into hospital because of his heart condition. Sadly, young children weren’t allowed to visit seriously ill relatives in hospital in those days. Before granddad died my father managed to lift me up to a high window so that I could see him and wave. I never saw him again.
My father will be eighty-five years old next month. Dad trained for Baptist ministry after completing national service in the Royal Navy. He has remained very active as a minister during his twenty years of retirement. It was a moment of great pride to hear Dad preaching in the church I belong to during our recent interregnum. I was similarly proud of my eldest son Nick, who preached at Hereford Baptist Church the week after his grandfather.
I am sad that my grandfather died relatively young. I wonder what he would have thought if had known that his great grandson would also train to be a Baptist minister, having first served in youth ministry for over ten years. I think he would have been blessed by that knowledge, and to know that another great grandson would serve in church leadership, while a great granddaughter would join Youth for Christ and travel the UK telling other young people about Jesus.
Thinking about my grandfather reminds me of a parable Jesus told about servants who were given different amounts of money by their master before he went on a trip. Two doubled what they were given, while the third chose to do nothing and buried what he had been given. Through faithful Christian service and raising his children to follow Jesus my grandfather left a legacy that like the money in the parable continues to grow in value.
In another parable Jesus taught about a sower throwing seed into places where it had little chance of growing and producing fruit. A young friend of mine preached a sermon that I shall never forget in which he described this as a deliberate, rather than a reckless act: An act of extreme generosity. We may never see the fruits of the seeds we sow, but we should aim to sow generously. Who knows what legacy we may leave?
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)