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By Cory Swinderman
A few years ago, my Grandfather (known to me as “Papap”) passed away. He was a World War II veteran and a Nazarene Pastor for 40 years.
After his death, I inherited his collection of his preached sermons (now 30 years old), preserved on old cassette tapes. A couple of weeks ago, I began the arduous task of digitizing them, saving them digitally, and clearing out my cassette tape collection. This morning I digitized my 3rd sermon. There are approximately 160 sermons remaining.
This morning I listened to a sermon he preached on Father’s Day in 1989. He talked about how Noah served God and saved his family in the process. Noah’s obedience to God, in both word and action, meant the difference between his family’s life and death.
Then my Papap said, “Like Noah, we Fathers are to build a spiritual boat for our families.” My Papap told the story of his Grandfather. He had almost no education and could barely sign his own name. (Both my Papap and my Grandfather were self-proclaimed “Hoopies.” For a definition of that word, ask Pastor Troy or Pastor Joshua). He was a good farmer though, who could fix anything that broke on a farm.
Yet his real impact on my Papap would ultimately be spiritual in nature. He would regularly open the Bible and read it for a very long time, not because he was reading large amounts of scripture, but because he could barely read any of the words. His laborious reading of the scriptures taught my Papap that the Bible was important.
Today, I sat and remembered my own Grandfather (“Papap”) preaching on the cassette tape, and the spiritual boat he had built for me.
On cassette tapes what he believed and valued are preserved in words, but his words would have meant nothing if I’d not watched his life for 35 years.
I saw the way he honored God first in his time, in his finances, and with his life. I saw the way he loved my Grandma (“Nana”) for nearly 60 years of marriage. I watched the way he loved people, and served the churches he pastored faithfully.
Every Father and Mother are building a spiritual boat for their families, and we often call it a legacy. It will probably not be in cassette tape form, but we are leaving behind something. What we value, what we believe, and how we love will be communicated to our children and grandchildren in both our words and our actions.
And the good news is, it is never too late to start building a boat like this. Though we may have failed to be the example we wish our kids or grandkids had, by God’s grace and through his strength, today is a good day to turn to God to receive his spiritual blueprints for a spiritual boat.
How do I know it’s never too late to build a boat for God and for your family? Noah was over 500 years old when he started to build his (exactly 600 years old when the flood started).
“O May all who come behind us find us faithful. May the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave; lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey. O May all who come behind us find us faithful” (Jon Mohr, Find us Faithful).