Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Children: The Chain of Life — Linden Malki

I'm writing this from Vaasa, Finland, my grandfather's birthplace. I'm here not as a tourist, but a grandchild.  My son David and I are here to learn more about my grandparents' world, which will help us see ourselves as part of the long chain that God is weaving with our family.

It took us about 30 hours of travel and waiting time to get from the west coast of the US to Finland. As I watched folks in the airports, especially ones traveling with small children, I found myself thinking that my grandparents had made a trip of about the same length the other direction: from Finland to Seattle, also on the west coast of the US. But they were on boats and trains with three small children (my mom was six years old, and had two smaller brothers at the time). It must have taken several months at least.

It's an interesting mental shift to see my mom and uncles, whom I only knew as adults with children of their own, as small children of young parents. It's often hard for people to think of their parents as ever having been young. A few years ago, I was having dinner with my same-age niece's family, when mention was made of a college friend of ours. Their daughter-in-law's face showed her struggle visualizing us grandparents as college kids.

God created each of us a baby, then a child, and to grow up to in turn have children and grandchildren. Each of us is the product of both are parents' lives and our own choices. The world's image of our family name is built up from our ancestors' lives, our own, and our descendents'. Our choices affect not only ourselves, but our children and their children. If my grandparents had not come to Seattle from Finland and Sweden, I, the person I am, would not exist. Had my grandparents not raised their children in the knowledge of the Lord, I would have made different choices.
When my kids were babies, I found it comforting to realize that every adult in the world is a baby who survived; that we are the result of this unbroken chain of ancestors who survived. Looking around here at Finland brings gratitude to God for the DNA that He blended to make me and my children; that we did not create ourselves but are a small part of a large and blessed family.

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