The Ties That Bind

July 6, 2022 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Richard Gammill –

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:18).

Strong family connections create strong—and sometimes surprising—emotions.

“Grandpa!” shouted little Noah as he threw open the door and ran toward me arms opened wide. He jumped into my arms and squeezed my neck.

“Grandpa, let’s go see trains.” His Paul Newman-blue eyes held my attention.

How could I resist? We climbed the stairs—I climbed, Noah ran—to my study and turned on the computer. Noah loves trains. We spent the next hour on the Internet with him on my lap as we looked at videos and pictures of trains.

“Grandpa, we’re best buddies. Can we go swimming now?”

By the time I got to the bedroom, Noah had his clothes off and his swimsuit on. In the pool, he found the water cannon, pumped it full, aimed it at me, and began firing.

“Noah, you are a rascal,” I said, as I stood there dripping wet.

“Grandpa, when do I get to start playing soccer like my sisters?”

“Pretty soon, Noah. And you will probably play baseball and football like your uncles did. I can hardly wait to watch you play. Won’t that be fun?”

“Will you come to my games, Grandpa?”

“Noah, nothing could keep me away!”

That night while I was trying to get to sleep, my thoughts drifted from my day with Noah to my friend Harold and his grandson, Bart. A shadow crept over me and filled me with sadness.

By the time Bart graduated from high school, Harold and his wife, Elaine, had driven thousands of miles crisscrossing the state of Kansas attending every baseball game Bart played in. They traveled even more miles attending performances of his choral group and marching band.

Following his graduation, Bart was accepted into a chiropractic college and prepared to move that fall to Kansas City. Then his girlfriend left him, plunging Bart into a pit of despair. A few days later, his body was found next to his pickup on a lonely Kansas road.

He had taken his own life.

My day with Noah gave me fresh insight into Harold’s devastating loss. The pain of Harold’s daily visits to his grandson’s gravesite gripped me. What could be harder than losing a child or grandchild?

The next morning the news on my computer reported the tragedy met by a group of Ohio high school students during their mission trip to Costa Rica. Five students swimming in the Pacific Ocean at a dangerous beach were caught by a riptide and swept out to sea. Two were rescued, but three drowned. Their bodies were found later. I turned to the ABC news report and made an emotional connection with one of the young students, her family, and mine. Her father teaches at her private high school and her grandfather is a retired Nazarene minister like me. She had planned to attend a Nazarene college. My two oldest granddaughters are students at a sister Nazarene college.

That family’s tragic loss shook me. I experienced a moment of terror as I imagined my reaction if my granddaughter had met a similar fate during her trips to China and Uganda.

Close family ties establish our priorities and give meaning to our lives. The phrase, “Family, first, last, and always,” describes an affair of the heart. It is a heart affair that connects our Heavenly Father with his earthly children. The crucifixion of His “only begotten Son” unites us with God’s heart forever. When our heart responds in faith to His sacrifice it brings us into a family relationship with Him.

Heavenly Father, thank You for making me Your child and giving me the assurance of having a Friend who sticks with me closer than a brother.

About Rich Gammill

Richard Gammill (Rich) is a retired minister with nearly 40 years of experience as a pastor and missions administrator. He lives in Little Elm, Texas with his wife, Jan; they recently celebrated 51 years of marriage. They have four children and one dozen grandchildren. Since his retirement he has written three published books. His second son is a businessman/missionary in India and Rich has made several trips to India where he ministers to groups of pastors in several parts of the country.
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