We all know the story of the message in a bottle. Someone writes a message, puts it in a bottle, throws it in the ocean, months maybe years later someone finds the bottle and opens it up to read the message. One of my favorite quotes is:
“Children are a message you will send into a time you will never see”.
Larry and Joan with their children- Marcy, Troy and Lacey
The actual quote is by Neil Postman, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” That message is much like the message in the bottle. I’ve been a father for 47 years and a grandfather for 21. During that time whether being aware of it or not, I have been writing a message into the lives of my children and my grandchildren.It is a message that will be carried into the next generation and hopefully generations beyond.
So the question becomes what does the message consist of and when do you write it?
This message cannot be written in a casual moment of enlightenment when you can sit down with your offspring and embed them with an unforgettable message. The message is written either intentionally or unintentionally in each and every contact that you have with your children. Either way, you are writing the message. The words you speak, the actions you take, and sometimes even the thoughts that they know you are thinking. There’s no specific time that you can sit down and write that message as you do in the bottle. It’s a never-ending-ongoing process that is not completed until you draw your last breath. The recent unexpected death of my brother-in-law emphasized to me that the message may be cut shorter than we expect. At that moment the message is complete, regardless of the content.
When our children were home we made an effort to attend every activity they were in. Countless baseball, volleyball, football, basketball games, school plays, and awards assemblies-- if it was possible, we would be there. I remember arriving a few minutes late for a volleyball game. Our daughter told us afterwards she was concerned that it would be her first game without us there.
We have carried on this same commitment with our grandchildren. We have been blessed to be close geographically to most of our children and grandchildren. That makes it easier for us to spend time with them. When you get a phone call that says we have a baseball game at 7:45 tonight and it is already 6:30 it would be easy to say we just can’t make it, but unless there’s a really good excuse as to why we can’t be there we will be at the ball game at 7:45. That is a message that tells them how important they are and instills in them that they are a priority. I know of adult men who will break down in tears as they tell the story of their dad never attending any of their activities.
It is so important to be involved in the things that are important to them.
Sometimes it can be as simple as going into their room when they call and want you to see a craft or something they have made. Maybe it’s not even a good craft but you make a big deal about it and you just added to the message. I have found myself sitting in a chair as one of my granddaughters proceeded to put lipstick, fingernail and toe nail polish on me as we watched Frozen. Just another note in the message.
Another one of my quotes which happens to be original is:
“You cannot pass on what you don’t possess”.
When it comes to things in the natural and passing them on to your children, it’s only common sense that you can’t pass on something that is not yours. In relation to the message that you are passing on with your children this is especially true. You cannot expect them to be God-fearing people with integrity, honest, kind hearted and all the fruit of the spirit unless you possess those in your own life. Do as I say and not as I do will never work on the message that you are sending. That message will fall on deaf ears. The message is usually composed as they watch and observe how you live life. They see what is important to you, how you react both to good and bad situations, how you treat your family and your friends, how faithful you are to the Lord, and especially how you treat their mother or grandmother
“Children are a message you will send into a time you will never see”. Don’t be casual as you compose that message, but be very intentional. You are in charge of the content and only you can compose it. When your children and grandchildren look back on the message that you have sent with them I sincerely hope it will be one that they will be proud not only to carry, but carry-on.
Gotta go, grandsons have a ballgame at 7:30 and yup… we just found about it!
The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7 NKJV
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