Well, forty years ago today, our nephew John was born; and that changed the way that Janet and I looked at the world. In fact, it still does. It might seem odd to you that something like that would have had such long lasting impact, but it has. That’s because, until the time of his birth, Janet and I represented the youngest generation in our families. Each of us has younger siblings, and Janet even has an older sister, John’s mother, but John’s entrance into the world marked the introduction of the next generation into our lives.
It didn’t seem so earth shattering at the time, but then again, I was looking at the world through the eyes of somebody who was eighteen – not fifty eight. Come to think of it, I was less than half the age that John is today. Wow…. time does fly by so quickly…..
Although Janet and I knew each other, we did not start to date until July 3, 1972; and I was tied up taking care of my grandfather, who had suffered a stoke and passed away on March 24, 1972; but Janet was pretty engaged with her sister and her new nephew from the day he was born. It wasn’t too many months later that Janet and I actually sat for John and although I missed his birth by several months, for all intents and purposes, I have known John his whole life.
When he was young, he had a tendency to want to build things and was good with his hands. We both enjoyed those types of things together. I remember when he got his first haircut, his first pair of glasses and when he he started school. We have always had something of an affinity for the same things and it is difficult to believe that forty years has passed.
When I think of all that has transpired in forty years, I am amazed – especially at how I view the world and life in general. It is just as profound when I think of all the things in the Bible that relate to the 40 year timespan. For example, the Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years – that’s a long time, and they ate manna day after day….. And both King David and King Solomon ruled for 40 years. Moses lived in the house of Pharaoh for 40 years, then lived in the dessert 40 years and then led the people of God for 40 years. Eli also led the country to Israel 40 years and there were times when the country enjoyed peace for 40 years. Although there is nothing specific that confirms for sure that 40 has any special significance in the Scriptures, we do find the number appears many times.
And some will tell you that 40 represents a time of completion. Priests served from the time they were 30 until they reached the age of 50, if they lived that long – so forty represented the halfway point of their official service to God. Although men became of age when they turned 30, 40 was the time when they had “completed” all their training and really found their place in the hierarchy of society.
I remember when Kristin, our oldest child, was born. The emphasis of a new generation really hit home even more profoundly than when John entered the world – because it was even closer to me. And John and Kristin, and eventually the rest of the children were all close in their early years when we all lived near one another. Sadly, time changes some of those things.
Now, John, Kristin, Todd, Jill and Andrew – the five cousins who are similar in age – are all married with families of their own. While it’s true that Janet’s youngest sister Nancy also has children, they are really a half generation behind the rest – neither Jessica nor Emily is yet married and they, of course, have not started families. So when I think of it, another full generation is being raised to carry on the traditions of the families that have endured for many years already.
And the marking of two score of life for John reinforces the fact that Janet and I are continuing to age. It seems tough to believe that we have a 40 year old nephew – and in several years, our own eldest child will celebrate 40 years of life. So aside from the fond memories of the past, I can’t help but think of the future and what the next 40 years will bring. I do pray that both Janet and I are here to witness it.
What’s more important is that we continue to provide a model of behavior for the next generations to honor God. It’s just too easy to get out of the groove of worship. In ancient times, it was a sacred trust to teach the younger people about God. We would do well to remember that. The verse for tonight reflects God’s faithfulness across all time. From Luke 1:50, we are told, “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”
So God continues to bless us; through all the generations. My encouragement tonight is to affirm that God answers our prayers and our children are important to Him. We are to be models of behavior that help them establish strong relationships with God; for themselves, and their children, and their children, and their children. My prayer is that you will remember to do the hard work of setting an example worthy of the God’s blessing on us and our families. Happy Birthday, John…. and a long and healthy life….. Love, Uncle Scott