All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it. Psalm 22:27, 28, 31
Our youngest son Tom, and his wife, Kathleen, with young Samantha, used to live down the street from us, in the house that had been my parent’s home for many years before their deaths. During the process of setting up their baby’s nursery a few years ago, Tom and Kathleen discovered a large box of my parent’s old photos that had been overlooked. I spent hours going through that box, and the tears flowed. Today I invite you to climb the family tree with me.
It would have been a tremendous loss for those photos to have been thrown out. I am the only person on the Florida branch of the family tree who would have recognized some of those classics. There were photos of my great grandparents, Pop and Bertha. I saw my aunt and uncle’s summer place on Moon Lake, in Lulu, Mississippi, (Yes, that’s really the name of the small town). One formal photo of a great great uncle and his wife was dated in the late 1800’s. I now have my first grade class photo laminated with my dad’s first grade class photo from the 1920’s.
What would have happened to that box of family treasures if I had gone on and married someone else, instead of returning to Charlyne many years ago? I suspect they would have been tossed out. Charlyne would not have known many of the people in the photos, and if there were a new husband for my wife, he wouldn’t want to keep old photos of her first husband’s hillbilly family. A huge branch of memories would have been chopped off of my family tree.
This can be demonstrated by one photo. It shows my now-deceased Grandpa Lee and Margie. She is the woman that he abandoned my grandmother to marry. Margie must have had family, but I have no idea where they are now, so that photo will never reach them. By the way, my grandpa finally repented for what he had done, sobbing over my grandmother’s casket at the cemetery, begging his daughters to forgive him, while Margie stood awkwardly in the background.
One other photo demonstrates the strength of the family tree. It was of “Bobby” Steinkamp in a classic 1950’s pose on the back of a small pony. Charlyne and I knew who the photo looked like, but we were still surprised at our grandson insisting, “That’s me, Grandpa!” I doubt that Charlyne could have ever found a step-grandfather for Ryan who looked like him.
Do you see what I do? My being here for our seven grandchildren is strengthening the family tree. In 1985, I attempted to prune that tree when Charlyne and I divorced. I thank God that amputated limbs from family trees grow back much stronger than ever before.
Grandpas are often main branches on family trees. My Grandpa Lee, who I admired so much, disappointed me. My grandsons looks up to me. Do you realize that represents five generations? Can you see how this divorce epidemic is spreading like wildfire? When no effort is made to put out the fire, family trees are being destroyed. Society is experiencing a forest fire of family trees.
Charlyne and I are deeply burdened about the family. Can’t you see that the next generation, and their children, will stand in front of their boxes of old family photos, if they can even find them, and not have a clue who those people are? We know the children of standers who do not even know their grandparents. Aunts and uncles, cousins and in-laws are not a part of their heritage.
Who will be the leaders of our churches, our government, our society, a hundred years from now? If we do not stop divorce in this generation, future generations will be led by people without family trees; people without the stability and the depth needed to endure. Our family is far from perfect, and there are a few branches of the family tree we don’t dare venture too far out on, but praise God, we are a family.
Charlyne and I will do our part to keep family trees intact by encouraging you in every way the Lord leads us and provides for us to do, but the ball is in your court. Are you willing to stand with God for your marriage to be restored, thus strengthening your family tree, or are you wanting to give up, forgetting the branch that the storms of life have temporarily broken off? Are you desiring to graft someone else’s family tree onto yours through another marriage? We all know that the majority of those grafts do not last a lifetime.
In addition to continuing to stand strong, I ask some things of you. First, do some family tree climbing with your family. Help them to learn about their extended family. Secondly, remember that families are forever. Above all else, keep the “underbrush” of sin cleared away so that your family tree will not burn.
Please pray today, and every day that the Holy Spirit will touch your prodigal spouse to give your family tree a dose of “Miracle Grow,” by the one you love repenting to God, and by coming home to a hurting family. The Lord God does re-grow broken branches. That is the miracle that helps families grow strong in the Lord, with each member serving Him and certain of their life eternal.
“All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.” Ezekiel 17:24
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Unless otherwise noted, scripture quoted are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.