I Have Known You Since Day One
by Russell Gehrlein
Published on July 29, 2022
Categories: Kids & Grandkids

I Have Known You Since Day One

By Russell Gehrlein

 

A friend recently challenged me to strongly consider writing more about my experiences as a Christian and father in order to help others. I have to admit, it was hard to hear that for two reasons.

First, I already have several articles in various stages of completion. I have over two dozen proposed articles on theology of work projects listed on my spreadsheet. I am wanting to make some progress on a special one that I am writing about God’s goodness during our recent move and finish another one.

Second, I am not confident I have been all that deliberate with teaching my children or grandchildren spiritual things like how to read the Bible or how to pray. I’ve prayed for them and with them. I have looked for teachable moments and have sown seeds. I have tried to speak their love language. I am not sure I did that much with my own kids, figuring that they would learn best by watching my example.

However, I do take my role as patriarch of this first-generation Christian family very seriously. I may have a lot to share after 41 years of marriage, 37 years as a parent, and seven years as a grandfather.

For my first of I don’t know how many reflections that I will attempt to work on as the Lord leads, let me focus on something that I have thought about and said numerous times. I may be the only one to have ever given so much thought to this deep and personal concept. Maybe it might help someone else.

Being there on time

One of the things that I am most grateful for is that I have been blessed to meet each one of my five grandchildren on day one; i.e., within 24 hours of their birth. In some cases, it has been on their actual birthday, but sometimes the next day. This means a lot to me now and will be useful in the future.

I realize and respect that many new mothers would not want their parents or parents-in-law to visit their new grandchild right away, but I am glad that our daughter and son’s wife were open to that. My wife and I have been fortunate to have been able to travel the eight hours to Milwaukee and four hours to Kansas City in order to make it there on time to meet them. Let me describe what I remember.

With our first grandson, we got the call that our daughter was in labor in the early morning hours and were able to hit the road a couple of hours later. We arrived about dinner time. It was so surreal to meet the first-born child of our first born child. My girl was now a mom and we were grandparents.

In the case of the second one, we had to relieve our daughter’s friends who volunteered to watch their firstborn son until we arrived. For our daughter’s third child, she arranged for my wife to come just before Mother’s Day and stay as long as needed. When I got the call that labor had begun, I made plane reservations, flew out of St. Louis, and arrived just in time to eat and put the boys to bed. Early the next morning, my wife and I brought them to the hospital to meet our beautiful granddaughter.

Our son’s first son was born in the Kansas City area. Despite the fact that he was born on the same day that I had a prostate biopsy, we were able to make it up to the hospital just before visiting hours ended.

Before their second one was born, just like our daughter had done, our son had asked us to take care of big brother at their home. We got to see the new little guy the next morning while it was still day one.

It is worth mentioning that this is not a practice that I carried down from previous generations. My wife and I did not have Christian grandparents, nor did our children. We have just done what we’ve always done in our marriage and parenting: by the grace of God, we just made it up as we went along. I am grateful we could do this for them. My hope is that it will continue with others when they are born.

Being known and loved

So, why is this so significant? What impact on these kids have I seen or hope to see down the road?

It has brought me immeasurable joy to hold my five grandchildren on their very first day of life. Each time I saw them I was reminded of how David described himself in Ps. 139:14; they were fearfully and wonderfully made. They were tiny miracles. To help celebrate, I wrote each of their names and year of birth in the margin of my Bible next to Prov. 17:6, “Children’s children are a crown to the aged.”

The birthday is only the beginning of a lifelong relationship. We had to keep the momentum going.

Over the past few years, we get to see the grandchildren three or four times a year, sometimes more. We usually go up on Easter weekend. On Columbus Day weekend in the fall, we pick apples. They come down to see us in Missouri for a few days in the summer and for a holiday or two. My daughter recently dropped her three kids at our house to watch them for four days while she was out of state. We have made similar trips every year up to Kansas City, although it has not been quite as predictable.

The long stretch between visits used to be a major concern. Would they still remember us? Somehow they did. Even when the kids were babies who hadn’t seen our faces for several months, there would be a flicker of recognition in their eyes. When they heard our voices, they would give us a big smile.

I have said I have known them since day one to most of them a few times. I understand that at their age they have absolutely no idea what that means. I may remember that day, but they certainly do not. I say it as a way of expressing to them my unconditional love and commitment. I have been there, not very often, but I have been part of their lives from the beginning. I plan to be there for them as long as I can.

These words probably won’t be of much use or fully appreciated by them until they are teenagers. This is what I envision may happen. When they are not getting along with their parents, I want to be able to come alongside them and remind them why they can trust me. “Now I’ve known you since Day one.” I anticipate that I will use this line often throughout their lives to get them to open up so that I can help.

I think there is a great deal of divinely-designed security in having a family and an extended family who sticks together and is truly present for each other. It communicates to the child that they are seen, they are valued, they are cared for, they have a hopeful future, and that they will never be alone.

Being known and loved by God 

I think that I have shared a lot of deep thoughts. Maybe there is more to say. I see a parallel between how I have felt towards my children and grandchildren and the way God feels towards His children.

God said something similar but even better to the prophet Jeremiah than what I have said to my grands. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer. 1:5). As creator, God knew him before day one.

Furthermore, God has said the same to those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ, “I have known you before day one.” Day one was when He created the world. Before creation, long before they were born, God determined they would be His children. The Apostle Paul boldly states in Eph. 1:4-5, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

Again, there is an incomprehensible security from understanding that our heavenly Father has known us our whole lives, accepts us in Christ, that He has been there, and always will be present with us. When we have no one else to turn to, He reminds us of these things so that we can trust Him to help.

My love for my children and grandchildren is strong. But I am weak. Even though I may have great intentions, I know that my influence on their lives will fall short. God is the one who will truly bring security, love, and hope, but only if they put their faith and trust in the Lord who has known

Sentence Divider

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband, father, grandfather, and blogger. He received a B.S. in mathematics from Colorado State University and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. God has given him a unique career journey as a junior/high school math and science teacher, youth pastor, and service in the military. Russ has worked as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood for the past 13 years. He is an ordinary man whose passion is helping other people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work.

His first book, Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession is A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work. Russ has written for the NCO Journal, Army Chemical Review, Campus Life, and for the Center for Army Lessons Learned. Russ has been published in Christian blogs and websites such as, Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, and The Gospel Coalition. His blog, Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest, inspires him to write on a continual basis.

 Feature photo published with permission from Gift Habeshaw

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  1. I Have Known You Since Day One | Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest - […] (Note: This article was published on the Christian Grandfather Magazine blog.) […]
  2. Milestone Birthday Reflections on the Brevity of Life | Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest - […] and my five beautiful grandchildren. They are the joy of my life. I have been there with them since…

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