I am blessed. Not for anything I have done but because of the family into which God ordained I would be placed. I had no choice, I had no input, I was not consulted nor did I earn it in some way. But by the grace of God I was given to a family that loved Jesus and therefore loved one-another. Without perfection, to be sure, without wealth or pedigree, but not without a deep and abiding understanding of what a family is and how it should function in a Christ honoring way.
Today, I am reminded how thankful I am that my mom and dad have been with us long enough to see and get to know all 5 of their grandsons. Two who are now in adulthood, two who will be there before we know it and one who is still a little guy (but only chronologically).
I remember friends in high school who lost their parents way back then and friends recently who have said goodbye to their parents. I know one day it will be my turn, but for today, on the 20th birthday of my firstborn son, I am especially thankful to still have mom and dad with me. And to serve as the current middle (maybe even “weak”) link in the linage of a family that loves, prays for and encourages one another.
What follows is a letter my dad wrote to my son (his first grandchild) within hours of his birth. I will cherish it until my last breath.
A Letter To My Newborn Grandson
(Caudle Jerry Adkins V was born January 25, 2000)
Happy birthday little fellow! You were born last night at 10:59PM. Your beautiful mother worked long and hard to bring you into this world and your daddy was right there with her the whole way. I cried when I saw how much they loved each other and how much they loved you (even though they didn’t yet know who you were). You see, sadly, the laws of our country would have allowed you to have been destroyed before you were even born, but your Mom & Dad would never have considered that. She carried you inside her body for nine long months until you would be able to live on your own. She labored for 25 hours and gave up her own physical well being and comfort to give you life. Always love and respect them for that – but more so, do it because God’s Word instructs you to do just that.
I never thought I could ever love any little boy as much as I did your daddy and his brother, Benji – but last night I found out that indeed I could. Your Mamaw and I fell in love with you at first sight. Not only were you beautiful to behold, but you also carried in your little person the combined heritage of all your Mommy and Daddy’s combined families. Your represent our very best hopes and dreams.
You are an eternal creature, for in your little body dwells a never dying soul. One day – sometime down the road, God will begin to deal with your heart about loving and serving Him. I am praying today that when that day comes, you will meet God on His terms and ask His son, Jesus, to come into your heart. Your Mommy and Daddy will be talking to you plenty about Jesus. So will Mamaw and I – and your Great Grandparents will too! You listen closely and believe, and when the time comes, it will be very easy for you to trust God and allow Jesus to be your Savior and Lord.
Sleep well and gain lots of strength. You’ll need it for what lies ahead of you. Who knows what the future holds for you? Tonight my imagination runs wild about you. What will you be like as you grow? What will you look like? How will your little voice sound when you say your first words, and what will those words be? With what types of talents and abilities has God blessed you? What great things might you accomplish for Him. Who will you marry? Will I be around to see you grow into adulthood and have a family of your own? I certainly pray that I do. You are so special. Among all the 6 billion people on earth there is no one else just like you. Not only does your whole family love you, but God loves you and Jesus died for you, and that makes you special.
This is an exciting time to be alive. My Papaw (the first Caudle) was born in the 19th century, in 1895 and he fought in World War I. He died in 1959. My Daddy (your great grandfather) was born in 1927 – the year Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs and Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic. He lived through the Great Depression, served in World War II, and as a member of the greatest generation, helped set the standard for all of us who followed. I was born in 1950 at the mid point of the 20th century, and have seen a lot of changes in this world and it’s lifestyles. Your Daddy arrived in 1973 and now, 25 days into the new 21st century, here you are! At the dawn of this new millennium, your life begins.
Listen to your parents. Watch their lives. Learn from them and trust their Savior as your own. Live for Him and walk with Him. Follow Proverbs 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” If you’ll do that, you’ll never, ever go wrong! Your Mamaw and I love you, little fellow – more than you can comprehend right now. I pray for God’s richest blessings on you all the days of your life.
With All My Love,
This very day, the “little fellow” in this letter is leading worship at a church event in another state, for the next 5 Sunday’s he will lead worship here at our home church. This summer he will lead worship for Lifeway’s Fuge Camps across Kentucky and Missouri. He teaches Bible studies, has already preached his first sermon, has led people to faith in Christ and regularly disciples other college students and friends as he serves in his local collegiate ministry.
Thanks dad and mom, for your influence in my life, for your faithful life and example to so many and for the prayers you’ve offered for your grandchildren. I believe your prayers have impacted my children and made an eternal difference. I pray Michelle and I will be faithful to live similarly when it comes our time to serve as the next “Papaw and Mamaw Adkins.” I am thankful to be a link in this chain. I am blessed, indeed.