What Will Our Children Remember?

Parent, have you spent time lately thinking through the impact your faith and life have on your children?  What traits do you hope they emulate?  What will your life and example inspire in them?  Here’s one story that I found encouraging and challenging.

Daddy daughter timeJohn G. Paton was a missionary to the New Hebrides in the late 1800’s. In his Autobiography he describes his father, and the influence that he had on his children.

After meals his father would go to a prayer closet, and the eleven children knew it; they revered the spot. Through his example they learned about God – the impact on that future missionary was immense.

Though everything else in religion were by some unthinkable catastrophe to be swept out of memory, were blotted from my understanding, my soul would wander back to those early scenes, and shut itself up once again in that Sanctuary Closet, and, hearing still the echoes of those cries to God, would hurl back all doubt with the victorious appeal, “He walked with God, why may not I?”

How much my father’s prayers at this time impressed me I can never explain, nor could any stranger understand. When, on his knees and all of us kneeling around him in Family Worship, he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the Heathen world to the service of Jesus, and for every personal and domestic need, we all felt as if in the presence of the living Savior, and learned to know and love him as our Divine friend.

When it came time for John to attend divinity school, his father walked with him to the train station – a forty mile walk. Nearly forty years later, Patton describes the scene this way.

My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it were but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. For the last half mile or so we walked on together in almost unbroken silence – my father, as was often his custom, carrying hat in hand, while his long flowing yellow hair (then yellow, but in late years white as snow) streamed like a girl’s down his shoulders. His lips kept moving in silent prayers for me; and his tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain! We halted on reaching the appointed parting place; he grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly and affectionately said: “God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!”

Dads, what will your child learn to love from you? I think each of us will silently wish that our father would have taught us to love and trust Jesus so, if they did not. But will your sons and daughters be able to relate, having learned to treasure Christ from you? Let us live in such a way that we can say to our young ones, “Follow me as I follow Christ”.

To learn more about John G. Paton, his Autobiography is still in print. You can also read or listen to a biography that John Piper presented. This article is based on chapter thirty of Pierced By The Word by John Piper.


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