When we decided to take all six of the boys on a plane to San Francisco in order to celebrate my grandparents' joint 95th birthdays, my heart was to introduce them to the heritage they've been given...and to establish the legacy we will choose to leave as a family. It was likely the boys' last chance to meet and spend time with their last remaining great grandparents.
It had been five years since I'd seen my grandparents, and they had aged so much. I cried happy tears to have these memorable moments with them, but honestly, there were some regretful ones too...tears over the time lost due to distance, language barriers, and family fissures.
There are so many stories my kids and I will never know about them, because sometimes it's not just the language of the tongue that is standing in the way of communicating, but the language of the heart...
...and so I pulled out my iPhone and captured 34 minutes of interview time with them. It was everything I hoped for, catching their voice and thoughts digitally...and yet, so far short of what it could have been. I think we assume that the heart softens and the bitter memories fade when one is old and approaching the end. But, that simply isn't always so...
...and it reminds me of what Randy Alcorn has said:
If your treasure is in heaven, then with every day that passes, you are moving closer to your treasure. If your treasure is here on earth, every day is sadness as you move further away from what is most valuable to you.
I asked about their childhood...about how they met...and what they would tell their younger selves...
And some of their responses were surprising to me. I wasn't prepared for the lack of joy that accompanied their responses. I pictured a beautiful collection of wise words and fun untold stories. But what I have recorded are memories of regret, pride, and what could have been. They were not answers I'd like to give at the sunset of my life, but they served to remind me that the Lord is at work to heal and bring fruit to future generations as HIS name is honored and shame and culture no longer serves as gods in our family...
I left the voice recorder running while I took a deep breath and spoke words of truth to my 95 year old grandparents...words that reflect a life transformed by the hope of the Gospel; a life not bound by culture, guilt, and self-worth.
At 38, I have a fraction of their life experience and life lessons, but know the redeeming love of Christ exponentially deeper and greater. That is hope indeed.
My grandparents' words are not the end of the story. Jesus' words through the testimony of our lives redeemed IS. And our 34 minutes included those words of home and gratitude...and my grandparents' subtle acknowledgement of that hope. I pray that acknowledgment would bear fruit in these remaining years of their lives.
Christ came for the ugliest of all family histories. In fact, he so stood for redeeming the dysfunctional family that he chose to use the most colorful genealogies to accomplish his good will in redemption.
Every generation in every family knows heartache and brokenness. My family is not all that different from yours. You have your stories...and your untold stories.
I love those two words.
...but, God...he redeems families, and is turning what was ALL ABOUT THE PAST to becoming ALL ABOUT WHAT IS TO COME.
And, therein, lies the hope for every family. Every war-torn family marked by strife, hurt, shame, loss, and unbecoming secrets. Because of the cross, change can happen in YOUR generation. He is our only hope.