There are reminders in the Bible for parents and grandparents to tell their children and grandchildren about what God has done for them in their life. It is a time to remember that God is full of mercy and grace. It is a time to learn not only the history of what God has done in the Biblical generations but also to know what God has done in our individual family’s lives. The purpose of reviewing our family history is to be able to give God praise for our being born and for working within our family and how our family has praised God for generations. This is a Biblical concept, take a look.
My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:1-4, (New International Version or NIV).
It is important that our children and grandchildren know what God has been doing in our lives. It is important that we tell of the history that the Bible so richly gives to us concerning all that God has done and continues to do for us. It is also important that we understand why Jesus Christ came to earth, born as a human, and died on a cross and then why the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so important. We can’t have enough praise for God and Jesus and all that they are doing. One way that we can see how God is working within our own families is to take a look back at past generations and see how they lived their lives. It is amazing how much their lives have impacted our own lives. It is amazing how our decisions, good or bad, impact our future generations as well. I want you to meet my granddad, Grandpa Slim. He was raised on homestead in Nebraska and had such a pioneering spirit.
Grandpa was tall and thin and as a young man acquired the nick-name Slim. He was a cowboy all his life and in his younger years loved to ride bronc’s, bucking horses, in a rodeo. He was tough, and he was a very hard worker. Some of his earliest memories were riding in a freight wagon with his Dad taking mail, cream, and eggs to North Platte, Nebraska from Sutherland, Nebraska. He was especially excited to be going past Wild Buffalo Bill Cody’s two houses. He said the two houses were side-by-side and that Buffalo Bill had one of them and his wife had the other. Buffalo Bill’s house always had a buffalo or two in the front yard. His wife’s house had a white-painted picket fence and lots of pretty flowers in her yard. Even as a child he thought that the two must not have gotten along very well. He always imagined that Mrs. Cody’s home would be pretty and spotless while Mr. Cody’s home would be messy and a bit on the dirty side. Of course he never knew if his theory was correct though.
Grandpa also told me that he never had his hair cut until he was five or six years old. Apparently it was the custom of the day for boys to not get their first hair cut until they were ready for school. He said that he had really pretty curls that were natural. I wish he would have passed them on to me! Grandad’s Mom had died when he was quite young and so he spent most of his life with his grandparents. It was common in those days for Mom’s to die usually from complications of childbirth. I don’t really know what happened to his Mom, I just know that she died. He was raised in a very strict Christian home by his Grandparents. There are several things that I remember my Grandpa telling me about life with his Grandparents.
First of all every Sunday afternoon his Grandpa assigned a chapter of scripture that he was required to memorize and would be asked on the following Saturday afternoon to recite. If he didn’t know the passage by heart then he was taken to the barn and whipped for not knowing the scripture. Grandpa said either out of rebellion or because he really couldn’t memorize he didn’t learn many passages and did endure many whippings. He hated God for that!
The second thing I remember him telling me was that his Grandma was really fat and he hated that too. He said that one time his Grandmother was the only one at home and fell on the gravel path that led from the house to the outhouse and she couldn’t get up. It was summertime and she lay there for hours before Grandpa came home and found her. He said that her face was badly sunburned from lying in the sun for so long and that she was weak from dehydration. I asked him why only her face was sunburned and he said that it was her custom to wear long-sleeved and floor-length dresses with the customary pinafore apron. None of her skin was exposed except her face. My Grandpa hated that she was so fat and he didn’t want his chubby overweight granddaughters to feel the humiliation that he felt about his Grandmother. Sorry Grandpa, but I am built just like your Grandma! To be fair I am also built just like my Dad’s Mom, Grandma, and Aunts! Too many genes to fight for me to be thin I guess!
The third thing I remember Grandpa sharing with me about his life with his Grandparents is that they had an apricot tree and every year he would help harvest the apricots. Then he would crawl up on the roof of the home they lived in and spread bed sheets out on the roof. His Grandma would take the pit out of the apricot and hand him the halved apricots to place on the bed sheets to dry in the sunshine. His job was to keep the birds away during the drying process of the fruit. This way they had dried apricots all winter long. He had a life-long love for a good apricot too.
He also said that his Grandpa had an old bucket near the barn door and whenever he or anyone else would find an Indian arrowhead they would toss it into the bucket. He said it was more than half full when he left the farm. He wondered if anyone ever found that treasure! He left when he was thirteen and went to work on a ranch in the Nebraska Sand Hills. Boy did he ever have some stories to tell from those days.
One of his most interesting stories happened when he was about fifteen years old. He was living alone in a line-shack and his job was mending fences. He would ride the fence of the massive ranch he worked for and mend any fences that were broken. It was a lonely job but one he didn’t mind as he didn’t mind solitude. He had a supply of flour for making pancakes and biscuits and he had a few chickens that provided eggs and he had dried meat like bacon and jerky. About once a month someone would bring him some new supplies and food.
One evening he heard someone riding up on a horse as that was the most widely used mode of transportation at that time. He was a little nervous since it wasn’t time for the monthly check on him. It was the County Sheriff and he asked Granddad if he had a gun and Grandpa said that he did. He told Grandpa to come with him and to bring his gun. Granddad saddled his horse and went with the Sheriff. Apparently there was a homesteader who was suspected of killing his wife and the Sheriff had to arrest him. The man was thought to be crazy and since there were several children of varying ages at the homestead the Sheriff wanted some back-up. The wife’s body had been found in what appeared to be death from being dragged by her horse as her foot was caught in the stirrup. The Sheriff, however, felt she had too many broken bones and bruises to have been killed that way. The oldest boy was questioned and finally told the truth that his Father had beaten his Mother to death and then tried to make her death look like an accident. The man was arrested and Grandpa said that he was sent to the state penitentiary for murdering his wife. Granddad said the he felt sorry for all the little children and really didn’t know what happened to them.
There was another time when the Sheriff asked for Granddad’s help. This time Granddad heard two horses riding rather fast to his door. He was expecting that it might be trouble and he was right. The Sheriff had apprehended a criminal but in the apprehension of the man there was a gun battle. The criminal was bleeding badly from a bullet in his shoulder. Grandpa said that they cleared off his table and together they performed surgery on the guy and took the bullet out and basically saved his life. He said that he often wondered if the criminal was happy or sad that they saved his life because he spent the rest of his life in prison. To Granddad being locked up for the rest of your life was the worst thing he could imagine happening to a man.
When Grandpa was eighty years old he finally realized that he needed to return to God and so he repented of his sins and was baptized and turned his life over to God through faith in Christ Jesus. He said that he was tired of running away from God, that he was tired of being rebellious toward God. I noticed a great softening in my Granddad from then on. He died at age eighty-two. He loved God and read his Bible faithfully. He also prayed every night on his knees before going to bed. I asked him why he knelt on his knees when it was so hard for him to get up and down at his age. He told me that he believed he was to pray while kneeling because he felt so humble before God. He prayed for his family, that they would all come to the Lord. He prayed for his dear wife and thanked God that she had never given up on him. He prayed for his brother-in-law Vern because he also had never given up on him.
Granddad loved his family deeply. He also loved his little short wife all his married life. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to know my Granddad as a Christian man. He shared his thoughts with me about his faith because I asked him questions. He didn’t seem to mind that I asked so many questions. Oh there was a time that he said he hated all the questions I would ask because he didn’t want to face the answers. He said that as a child my questions penetrated his hardened heart and made him feel uncomfortable. He said that they made him stop and think about God when he really didn’t want to think about God. He said that is why he always made me stay with Grandma rather than go with him. I appreciated his honesty. I am thankful for Granddad Slim, I am so glad that he was a good man, that he worked hard and loved deeply and played hard and loved me. Most of all I am thankful that he came to love God as much or more than I do. I look forward to eternity with him. God worked through Granddad to touch my heart and I am sure that he touched other hearts as well. I am thankful for his life and I praise God for having such patience and for allowing my Granddad to live long enough to run out of rebellion toward the things of God. I am praising God for all that was done in my Granddad’s life.