A few months before my engagement to my then-girlfriend (now wife), my mother called me into her bedroom. From her drawer, she took out a four-claw princess cut diamond engagement ring. This was what Grandmother had given to Dad to present to Mum when he proposed to her! And now, Mum was giving it to me to present to my fiancé.
My wife now keeps the same ring safe in her drawer to give to our son, when his time comes, as a precious heirloom.
As parents or grandparents, what are the precious heirlooms that you have kept safe for your children or grandchildren? What cherished family treasures have been handed down to you that you have safeguarded and held close to your heart, and that you would like to pass down to the next generation? What prized possession, what priceless legacy, would you like to leave for your beloved descendants?
Our Precious Heirloom
There is a passage from the Bible that I find inspiring to parents and grandparents:
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvellous deeds.
Even when I am old and grey,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Having known God since his youth, the writer of this psalm has accumulated a lifetime of experiencing God and His care for him. As he comes to the autumn of his life, he pleads with God not to give up on him.
He implores God to preserve his life so that he can proclaim God’s goodness and grace to the next generation. This is his precious heirloom.
But not for his own sake. He does not ask for good health, strength, or a sound mind to enjoy his retirement and to take that well-deserved long holiday or to indulge in all the leisure pursuits that were denied him in his working years.
No. Instead, he implores God to preserve his life so that he can proclaim God’s goodness and grace, and His mighty acts in his life, to the next generation. This is his precious heirloom that he wants to pass on to his children and his children’s children.
What We Have That Our Kids and Grandkids Don’t
We who have lived longer, who have “eaten more salt”—as a Chinese proverb puts it—have a special quality and blessing that the younger generation do not: we have been with God and have experienced His goodness longer!
As parents or grandparents who have known God’s love for a longer time, we have a huge treasury of His good and gracious acts, and a deep experience of His power and might in our lives, that we can pass on as a precious heirloom to bless and encourage the next generation to love and trust Him more.
We have a huge treasury of His good and gracious acts that we can pass on as a precious heirloom to bless and encourage the next generation.
How has the Lord been good to you in your life? How has He provided and protected you over the years? How has He shown grace to you when you failed Him, and restored you into His loving care again and again?
Recalling and Retelling
As a young boy, I was involved in an accident when I ran onto the road while playing by the side. I ran straight into the side of a moving pick-up truck and fractured my right shoulder, and have lived with the deformity all my life. But had I run into the street a second or two earlier, my life would have ended there and then.
Then, at the start of my fourth year in university, I met the girl of my dreams. But I had just taken up leadership duties in my Christian campus fellowship; I could not pursue both service and courtship—and expect to do well in my studies too.
So, I prayed and asked God to keep her for me until I completed my term of service. After I stepped down a year later, I was able to meet her again. We married four years later.
A week after starting work as a junior doctor in the operating theatre, I came home after a long day only to realise that my wedding ring was missing. I had left it in the pocket of the scrubs I was wearing, and thrown it into the laundry bin.
I rushed back to the hospital, emptied all the soiled linen onto the theatre floor, prayed harder than I ever did before in my life, and began searching through every piece of garment. After two hours of searching and pleading with God, I found the ring, lying in the middle of the floor.
And I remember how my wife and I wept uncontrollably when she suffered the miscarriage of our second child. It took us a while to come to terms with it, but God helped us through it.
There are so many more occasions worth recalling and retelling.
The Gem of Great Worth
Not a year has gone by in my life without a significant cause for petition, and then praise, as God proved himself over and over to me that He is good and faithful to His children. I am absolutely certain it is the same for you!
You need only to take a little time to recall them, while you still can. For example, you could write these memories down, or record them orally.
Better yet, make a scrapbook of God’s goodness and grace to proclaim His mighty and powerful acts in your life to the next generation.
Currently, I am also journalling about my life in a blog, a life lived in the shadow of a good and faithful God. I may post my memories on the internet, print them out and collate them, or just save them as a soft copy to bequeath to my children and grandchildren.
The medium really is secondary—the message of God’s goodness is the real gem of great worth. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which we must pass down to the ones we love the most in this life.
The medium really is secondary—the message of God’s goodness is the real gem of great worth.
At this time of the year,when we are busy readying red packets and counting notes to stuff into them to distribute to all the little ones, spare some time to count the many, many blessings you have received in your long and blessed life. Then, package them and proclaim them to those who will come after us.
Have a meaningful and blessed Chinese New Year!