When Bud and Charlotte were young there was something missing in their lives and they didn’t know what it was. They sometimes left their three small children alone at night and went out dancing and drinking. Eventually they separated and then divorced. Charlotte had a man friend.
It was around that time someone invited the girls to Vacation Bible School where they were introduced to Christ. Then Charlotte attended the funeral of a neighbor were she heard a gospel message. She began to attend her neighbor’s church and later discovered the neighbor named Mrs. Rice had been praying for her and for her children. Their names were written on a prayer list and kept in her Bible.
Soon Bud and Charlotte were a family again. All together they would be married fifty years, not counting their time of separation. They raised their three children for the Lord and they even adopted another child. Then there were two girls and two boys.
Bud developed a hunger for the Bible and Christian books. Somewhere he found a weekly periodical called The Sword of the Lord. The editor of the Sword of the Lord, an evangelist named John R. Rice, wrote a book entitled The Christian Home. Bud read the book and kept a copy of it handy all the time.
Bud was not quick to discipline his children. He did not like to punish them. He was a man of few words. He did not lecture them. When his children argued or things weren’t as they should be in the home he would set them all down and read long passages from Rice’s book on the Home.
Years later his daughter would say she dreaded those times and would rather have been grounded or disciplined in some other way. She often mentioned this in the years to come and her siblings would all groan at the memory. I heard the story many times myself because Bud was my grandfather.
Years ago before we banished television from our home we owned an old set a friend had given us. Sometimes the picture would get fuzzy like you were watching without glasses. I noticed a re-set button on the back of the set. When you pushed the reset button the picture would become clear again.
Last week I was frustrated with my children because they were being argumentative and making trouble. When that happens I am often grieved and frustrated. I feel like somehow I am failing as a dad. I feel like we are losing our focus. I want to find the reset button and bring the vision for a harmonious, loving Christian family back into focus again. Times like this often drive me to my knees. I try to think of ways to recast the original vision for a family marked by godliness. Frankly I fear what can happen if we begin to wander from the commandments of God and the principles of godly living.
I was sitting in a restaurant when it hit me that that must have been what my grandfather was doing when he gathered his children and read to them long passages from Dr. Rice’s book. He remembered the emptiness and guilt and pain of a broken family. He remembered the hurt of separation and the guilt of sin and he didn’t ever want to go back. He wanted something better for his own children than what his sinful past had given him. My grandfather was searching for some way to remind himself and his family about what they believed and held dear.
That may be the most important thing a godly man can do, continually keep a picture of a godly, spiritually healthy, family before his wife and sons and daughters. As long as there is breath in my body, no matter how hard it is, I am going to keep hitting the reset button to keep a picture of a godly, happy, holy, healthy family in focus in our hearts. Pray for me. We need it. We all always will.