The Joy of Family

Grateful reflections from “the son of a milkman”
From the October 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

My eldest grandson, David, turned 21 the same month as I turned 70 this year. Each of us crossing these thresholds within weeks of the other caused me to think on the joy of family.

I remember listening to David’s heartbeat shortly before his birth. I was on one end of a phone connection in Australia and my wife was in the opposite hemisphere in Pasadena, California, holding the other end to the stethoscope that was picking up the steady beat of that little, unborn infant’s heartbeat through his mother’s womb. I stayed on the line till I heard his first cries at birth. It was an expensive phone call, but worth every memorable moment.

Now that lad has become a strapping 6-foot young man beginning his final year at college. Seven other grandchildren followed from the marriages of my three children. It has been sheer delight to watch them grow up toward that time when they will make their choice to dedicate their lives to the service of their Creator.

One of the things my wife and I have most deeply appreciated throughout our life together is the wonderful biblical revelation about marriage and the family. It enabled a strong foundation for the building of a beautiful marriage and the raising of our children in God’s way of life. Now we are able to savor the results of seeing our children teaching that way to their own.

If I were to boast of my children and children’s children, my boast would be of a God who opened the minds of my wife and me to receive His divine revelation about the very nature, the reason for and true destiny of the marriage and family relationship. Had we not had the blessing of that knowledge, who knows what state my extended family would find itself in today!

But for reasons best known to Him, God did open our minds to His truth, and we have striven, through thick and thin, through all test and trial, through occasional persecution and through ongoing correction, to live His way of life for almost half a century. Through all of this I would have to say that the joy of family has far exceeded all others in my life.

To put things into perspective, that joy has been enhanced even more because, on reflection, it seemed that from the beginning, the deck was heavily stacked against prospects of my personal success in that arena.

My paternal grandfather was murdered by fellow workers for refusing to take part in a labor strike when my dad was 13 years old. It was during the economically depressive interwar years. My dad then had to leave school at that young age and go to work laboring in a butter factory in Sydney, Australia, to support his sister and mother who were largely left destitute, except for their home.

The year I was born, my dad went to war in the Pacific campaign, fighting as a machine gunner in one of the most extreme battles against the Japanese forces in the Pacific, the battle of the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea.

Mercifully, he returned and was able to reengage with his prior employer. Five years later, however, he was killed in a road accident when a drunken truck driver rammed into his horse-drawn milk-cart.

I was 10 years of age.

My twice-widowed mom was left with two young daughters and me to raise. Her first husband had died of peritonitis when she was expecting her first child. Following the loss of her second husband, Mother became emotionally unstable. But the one thing she did do was hold our dad constantly before us as our hero. She never remarried. Hers was a truly loving relationship with her husband.

At the trial of the drunken driver, as the court was awarding damages to Mum for the death of her husband, Mum’s lawyer questioned what he thought was a sum too low to allow for my education and training to adulthood. The lawyer for the defendant contested any prospect of increasing the damages offered.

The judge agreed with the defending lawyer, claiming that taking Dad’s socio-economic status under consideration, and the future he could have offered to his children should he have lived, the amount was adequate. He rounded off his remarks with the statement, “Well, after all, what can one really expect of the son of a milkman?”

Damages were awarded at the lower level. But those words of the judge, conveyed to me by my mom, burned deeply into my brain as a child. From then on, I was determined to show the world what “the son of a milkman” could do.

God speaks of a resurrection of the dead when all who have ever lived will live again to experience life the way God intended from the beginning (Revelation 20:12). Perhaps I shall meet that Australian judge in that resurrection and boast to him of my God. Boast of the God who opened my ears to hear the words of an aging apostle, Herbert Armstrong, who taught the truth about marriage and family. One who taught the revelatory truth of how to raise a family within a successful marriage and then guide a second generation in training up a third, teaching them the knowledge of how to unlock their incredible human potential and truly gain success in this life.

I will boast of a God who will give every person conceived of man and born of woman—be they a common laborer, the “son of a milkman” or the highest judge in the highest court of the land—the opportunity to lay hold on the incredible human potential and fulfill his or her God-ordained destiny! (John 10:34).