Thursdays are a special time in our house. That’s the day we’ve set aside for grandchildren. We presently have three grandchildren, ages 4, 2, and 1, with another one on the way. Every room in our house literally is a reflection of this new priority in our lives, and we want to get every bit of blessing out of this season. I love it when they cry when their parents pick them up because it’s time to leave, when they move freely between my wife and me as their favorites, and when they wreak havoc to our house with nonstop precision.
I’m a bit of a grandparenting pioneer, since my own grandparents passed away before I was born and my wife’s grandparents lived far away for much of her life. I’m sure we’re making mistakes, but we don’t sweat it that much; after all, whatever problems we create are exported to their parents to solve at the end of the day. Unlike many of our peers, we are privileged to have our children living nearby. Of course, that carries with it all the accompanying drama. You know what they say: “Higher highs and lower lows!”
In many ways, grandparenting is sort of a do-over for all the shortcomings and missteps of parenting; it’s like receiving a dividend for surviving the parenting years. There’s more time, more money, more freedom, and more concentration than was available the first time around with the kids. Much of that original parenting energy is gone, but there are plenty of ways to compensate for it with junk food, mess-making, and Disney-Plus.
There has never been a better opportunity to be a hero than as a grandparent. Our oldest grandchild has a vivid imagination and so pretend tents, castles, and forts become backdrops to epic made-up stories of captive princesses and monsters that turn out to not be all that scary, after all. We push the swings for the younger ones higher and higher, catch tadpoles in the pond (we name them and then let them go), or make up stories of the Squishy family while floating in the swimming pool. We hunt for diamonds in the river rock around the landscaping, sing songs, and make crazy faces. As we play and explore, my wife and I do our best to decipher their latest new word.
Some of the best experiences we have are connected to our faith in Jesus. It might be a Bible story read out of a book, a song my wife plays with them at the piano, or the prayer they say over their favorite lunch. It might be the opportunity to answer a burning question that to them is just the first in a string of asking, “why? why? why?”
They’re just moments—seemingly insignificant moments—but they are the stuff of which heroes are made. These moments grow in the spaces between listening and asking, playing and cuddling, crying and comforting. And moments mount up. Like gold, they wash down from the mountains to the riverbeds in rich deposits that last a lifetime.
Grandparenting is another window into understanding our heavenly Father and his great love for us. The way I feel about my grandkids is just a dim reflection of the feelings my heavenly Father carries for me, and my ability to love has been given to me by God. Every time I love on my grandkids, I can look up and understand just a little more the love God has for me. I get to be my grandkids’ hero and God gets to be mine.
Solomon said there is a time and a purpose for everything under heaven. Carrying that forward, I believe the time of parenting and grandparenting is precious with purpose and full of redeeming grace. I’ve had the privilege of pastoring a church of more than 10,000 and seeing thousands of people baptized, but I don’t think I’ve done anything more important in my life than simply being present, engaged, and enjoying teachable moments with the kids and grandkids God gave me. My wife and I are unlikely heroes, but we are heroes just the same.
In Old Testament times, patriarchs passed down a blessing to their children. Bible stories inform us just how precious these blessings were to those giving and receiving them. I think there is a terrible shortage of blessings today, and it has become the cause of much of the world’s problems.
Someone once told me I could fail at many things and still recover, but if I failed with my family, then I truly was a failure. I wonder if someday when I stand before my Father to give an account for the things I’ve done in this life, whether an examination of how I led my family will be the most consequential. I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that I’m going to keep showing up for Thursdays, for Sunday dinners, and at all other times, because I want to be a memory-making machine that points my children and grandchildren to the One who makes our lives matter.