Lessons learned on the way home

By Joan Clayton: PNT Religion Columnist

Family gatherings are memory-makers. Before you know it the time quickly comes to say goodbye, so I hang on to every moment. Our backyard became the perfect place for sons, daughters-in-love and grandchildren to play badminton, horseshoes and volleyball. We dined on barbecue, hot dogs, hoagies, watermelon and homemade ice cream. Most of all we kissed, loved and held our newest family member, Cayden Emmitt Clayton. He is only five months old, but we all agreed that he had to be the smartest and prettiest baby ever and believe it or not, I heard him say, “Mawmaw.”

Of course our house bulged at the seams. People slept on air mattresses in the middle of the den, on the couch, even in the camper, but we were all together … our family.

Families are God’s design. A godly family is a family forever. Even at five months, little Cayden knows everyone loves him and he is thriving in it. A strong faith is the greatest thing we can leave our descendants. I am reminded of Phineas in Numbers 25. Phineas had “a different kind of spirit” and had zeal for the Lord. As a result … “He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites” (Numbers 25:13 NIV).

Teaching and training children in “God’s Way” results in blessings even to a thousand generations: “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is the faithful God who for a thousand generations keeps his promises and constantly loves those who love him and who obey his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9 TLB).

It is a sobering thought to know the way I live my life today could affect those who come after me for a thousand generations. I want my descendants to be blessed.

Yes, trials and hardships come, but God is bigger and a strong faith is our refuge and fortress: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91 KJV). At life’s end, it isn’t riches or fame that’re important. Money cannot buy the assurance of eternity.

I heard a story about death between two men. One was a believer the other was not. The believer said, “If you are right, I have lost nothing. But if I am right, you have lost everything!” One cannot live wrong and die right.

Solomon’s wisdom and purpose for life is stated at the end of Ecclesiastes: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).

In view of this short early journey I pray this prayer:
“Dear God, help me to live just for today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow I cannot see. Let me be quick to express my love to others. I want to memorize my husband’s face and may I never take his love for granted.

Guide me to find happiness in simple pleasures, the soft sound of snow crunching beneath my feet, the cooing of a dove, the welcome dripping of rain against my window pane.

Help me to minister your love to a lost and dying world. Remove all pride and selfishness in me and may others see love.

Teach me to number my days, making each moment count, for time is fleeting. Grant me deeper truths of your heavenly kingdom.
When the midnight hour of my life has ended, may I have run the race with patience, fear being far from me. Having fought a good fight may I greet the dawn of glory with singing and thanksgiving to you, beholding your beauty … my king, my redeemer, my savior, my Lord. Amen.”

Joan Clayton is a retired teacher, author and religion columnist living in Portales.