“May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.”
Great-Grandpa Hemkes must have been the quintessential absent-minded professor. Once, before he came to America, he was so preoccupied with his theological meanderings that he nearly skated beyond the canals and straight out into the unfrozen North Sea, had to be restrained by fellow skaters concerned for his safety. His obituary suggests that, as a professor of theology, he was legendarily slack; but people considered him a grand storyteller. He lived to be 82, died of the diabetes he fought most of his life.
Strangely enough, I find all of that relevant.
His daughter, my Grandma Schaap, was an angel—and that reference of her character comes from her daughter-in-law. One characteristic of my father’s family is an almost unmanly sweetness, even in the men, who seem to have arrived a bit short on testosterone. Such gentleness might have come from her, Grandma Schaap, who was never particularly healthy. But then she had ten kids--small wonder.
Great-Grandpa Schaap (that's him and his wife Neeltje up top) tried to farm like millions of other European immigrants in of his era, even though back home in the Netherlands he’d sailed the high seas. But, there was free land in
where he lasted just two years and, from then on, determined he wasn't fit to master the plow. He'd left Holland because the North Sea island
where he lived didn’t have a church that quite met his standards.
My ancestors on both sides of my family were very religious folk, which (when one considers the letters coming out of this computer right now) is a fact worth noting. I hail from a distinguished ancestral legacy of bedrock Christian belief in the Calvinist tradition. And here I am, meditating on the Psalm 90.
Still, I’m sure some of those folks would wince when they’d read these pages. They carried convictions I don’t have, set stiff boundaries on Sabbath behavior, and likely would have considered moving-picture shows the lusty work of Satan. They never danced, and if they played cards at all, it was likely Rook. They meted out their love for the Lord almost militarily, created cloistered communities with quite unsparing codes of righteousness.
I am their child in many, many ways. I have no doubt at all that part of the reason I’m writing these words is attributable to them. They are the source of the spiritual predilection in me—biological and/or behavioral. They are my heritage.
But I am not my father, just as my son is not his. There's not a clone in your lineage or mine.
Still, my son has it too, my own son—this predilection to believe. He has, just as I have, a goodly heritage, sometimes more than little uptight. And I want him to know that family history and own that heritage, to confess his faith in Jesus Christ. I want him to believe, as they, I’m sure, wanted me to, even if they’d immigrated to glory long before I was born—or him.
I know the impulse of this line from Psalm 90: “May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.” Every Christian does and has. We want those we love to know the Lord. It’s just that simple.