“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, “This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them'” (Numbers 6:22-27–NKJV).
As little children, we’d giggle and peer at one another from behind spread fingers pressed hard to faces. What would start out appearing like earnest petitions would, before prayer’s end, be anything but–especially when we’d hear Grandpa Frank beseech God in his usual manner. By the time he’d stoically say “… and to our children’s children,” snickers were often heard, and one or more of us would receive either a pinch to the thigh under the table or perhaps a thump to the head above, or both.
And thus would begin family dinners.
What I’ve come to understand now, being, of course, older and wiser, is that Grandpa Frank was transcending time with his earnest prayers to the Lord–so grateful, no doubt, to have his brood all about him, which was a blessing in and of itself.
With gratitude in his heart, he’d invite us all to bow our heads, close our eyes, that we might go before an all-knowing, always loving Father–One he knew wasn’t constrained to man’s dimension of time and space. After all, Grandpa was speaking to the Creator of the universe.
In Grandpa Frank’s prayer, after offering praise, perhaps a petition or two, he’d come to the part that we children always found funny. Predicting his words only heightened the humor as we waited, waited for the phrase we knew would come. The thought of it welled up inside us until giggles had no place to go but up and out.
…And our gracious Heavenly Father, we ask that you bless us down through the generations–extending to us and to our children and to our children’s children all that You have purposed and planned, in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Amen would come with one or more of us likely rubbing our heads or thighs–our frustrated parent’s predictable pinch or thump much like a punctation mark, a period or exclamation point, to Grandpa’s prayer.
So be it!
What I know now that I didn’t know then was the absolute beauty of this paternal patriarch’s blessing to me–my dad’s dad’s child’s child–as well as to my sister and our three cousins, all my dad’s brother’s children, who were also Frank Miller’s child’s children.
No longer do I find myself snickering at these words but, rather, fighting tears, as I realize the magnitude of all that his words meant, silly as they may have sounded when I was just a girl of eight. Because, although Grandpa’s words were like one of Grandma’s quilts blanketing us with blessing, covering the generations seated at his table, they were far, far more–not ending at the tablecloth-covered oak surface but traveling far and beyond.
How? Because Grandpa’s words were offered to an omniscient, omnipotent Father–the Creator of time and space. The Author of such. The Answerer of each and every prayer that Grandpa prayed with either–
a yes …
a no …
or a not now.
From that dining table, God could see beyond eight-year old me to twenty-eight year old me who, after fists had flown at hearing “No”, had come to rest in the lap of her Lord–her words, by God’s grace, no longer my will but Thy will be done. Relinquished, thus, to her Savior’s plan, He met her heart’s desire for children through the miracle of adoption, bringing her far more than she’d ever imagined possible.
Yes, Grandpa Frank’s prayer was for Ian, Jacob, and Allie–his child’s child’s children.
From that dining room table, God saw beyond a three-year old to a twenty-three year old who, as the wedding responses were returned, heard her Good Shepherd say, This is not my best for you, dear Child, and I offer you another path that you might discover my best plan. Won’t you trust me? Weak, wounded, and willful, she simply couldn’t find the strength to trust Him enough, and thus promised Yes to a lifetime with someone who wasn’t God’s best for her, nor her for him. Later, she experienced God’s mercy extended in Grandpa’s prayer, which offered her healing that transcended time after one miscarriage and a painful divorce. By His grace, God brought His daughter in her second marriage three children who were indeed covered by Grandpa’s blanket blessing from long ago.
Yes, Grandpa Frank’s prayer was for Emma Grace Long, and Elijah, Maxwell, and Alicen Elizabeth Neiswonger–also his child’s child’s children.
From that dining table, God saw a little one who’d be born with a disability, another’s rebelliousness, and the urgent cries and flailing fists when yet another child was lost through a failed adoption–each, though our fallible minds can’t quite comprehend it, a yes, a no or a not now answer to Grandpa’s prayer.
From that dining table, God saw each joy and sorrow, every success and sin, and every triumph and trial that would come to those who sat with head bowed low. Yes, even for those of us holding back giggles until they erupted and brought punishment, like foreshadowing of greater transgressions that were yet to come, though each covered in God’s amazing grace, His lavish love spread thick as apple butter on Grandma’s homemade bread, because of Grandpa’s blessing…
To his children’s children’s children and beyond, until eternity.
Never have I been more thankful. More grateful. More aware of the gift of mercy and grace than I am now, thinking about Grandpa and his prayer, like Aaron’s, that went out in to all the coming generations.
The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Yes, like one of Grandma’s quilts, Grandpa covered his children–and his children’s children’s children–each time we sat around his table. His blessing was a blanket bearing God’s name, dressing me, my sister, and our cousins, as well as our spouses and our children and our children’s children–silly and irreverent as some of us were–in strength and dignity and honor in ways that would, though we didn’t know it then, enable us to giggle at the days to come (Prov. 31:25), giving us–
… the joy of the LORD, which is our strength today and always (Nehemiah 8:10) …