Grandparents and Their Influence

Grandparents can powerfully influence their grandchildren—and even beyond.
I realized this in force as I came across an interesting connection this morning in looking up some scripture references. In Exodus 17, we read of one of the first major battles the Israelites fought after coming out of slavery in Eqypt, Moses holds up the rod of God’s authority on a hilltop to determine the outcome of the battle Joshua is fighting in the valley below. I picture him holding it with both hands over his head. When he holds it up, they are winning the battle; when he gets tired and lets it down, they start losing. So Moses sits down on a rock and his brother Aaron and another man—this is our first introduction to him—Hur. (I can’t help but wonder if this name didn’t influence Lew Wallace’s selection of title character in the famous novel Ben Hur, written in 1880 and, until the publication of Gone With the Wind in 1936, the most published book besides the Bible.)
Hur (the name, according to the Wikipedia article on Wallace’s novel, means “white linen” in Hebrew) is, according to the Jewish historian, the brother-in-law of Moses, married to his sister Miriam. (A different Jewish tradition makes him Miriam’s son, in which case he would have been Moses’ nephew.) He was also the grandfather of another well-known post-Exodus figure, Bezaleel. Bezaleel becomes the master craftsman who fashions the Tabernacle Moses had made and many of the items it contained, including the Ark of the Covenant, the furniture, and the original Menorah (lampstand). And Bezaleel is the first person mentioned in the Bible who was filled with God’s Spirit.
This is just a thumbnail sketch, background to get to my point: What influence might Hur have had on Bezaleel as he grew up? Did Hur help his grandson figure out who he was, what his calling (“vocation”) was in life? Did he take him fishing and hunting and adventuring? We aren’t told, obviously, but it’s fun to speculate. I wonder sometimes how the influences of my own grandparents and even great grandparents impacted me, even in ways I don’t know about.
I’ve heard that Dr. James Dobson, Christian psychologist and founder of the well-known “Focus on the Family” ministry, had a great-grandfather who was a farmer. Every day that man would stop wherever he was working and take lunch at noon for an hour, and spend that hour praying for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (probably based on the scriptural idea of spirituality and sin being passed down “to the third and fourth generations”). Of all his descendants in that fourth generation, all except Dobson (and perhaps one other) are ministers or are married to ministers—and obviously Dobson’s ministry could be seen as more powerful than had he actually become a minister.
The older we get (I am 59), the more we realize we won’t last forever, and the more important it becomes to pass a legacy on. I have 3 granddaughters by my first wife, and 2 grandsons by my step-son. I know I don’t pray for them at all like Dobson’s great-grandfather. But I’m learning. The youngest grandson has stayed with us for the past 2 days while his dad works out of town, and we are praying over him, singing to him, trying to pour into him. And, hopefully one day, he too will find himself filled with God’s spirit, finding his true calling, and becoming the man he was meant to be.
We don’t get to choose our grandchildren, and really, when it all gets down to it, had little say in who our children turned out to be and become. I can say that with far more clarity with my firstborn being now 37 years old than I would have thought when he was born.
Still, we do what we can and pray for God to make up the difference. He is faithful. Ultimately, it’s his rod, and his battle. I’m just glad we get to help hold up one end of the rod sometimes.


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One Response to “Grandparents and Their Influence”

  1. adoptingjames Says:

    We plan on naming our first son after James Dobson, because my wife and I attended the Focus Leadership Program (then known as Focus on the Family Institute). If it weren’t for him or Focus on the Family, we would have never met! We love that man!

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