Seven weeks ago I had a unique and distinct opportunity. It was a specific privilege that many will overlook, and few will recognize the true significance of. Yet, it is an event of such consequential importance that it will shape my viewpoint on generational legacy and the importance of honoring our forefathers. This specific event was the 70th anniversary celebration of Floyd and May Clem. This righteous man and his virtuous wife were celebrating 70 years of marriage! A special and unmistakable honor in a day when the purpose and role of marriage is confused and misrepresented. Throughout the duration of the celebration, Mr. and Mrs. Clem were continually encompassed by friends and family who sought to congratulate and honor them for their 70 years of dedication and perseverance in marriage. This is truly a testimony of God’s mercy and favor on two people who were seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. It was a joyful thing to see my Uncle Mark rise before all who were present and publicly honor his father and his mother; giving testimony to the mighty work of God’s grace in both their lives, thanking them for their perseverance in the faith, ascribing greatness to the Lord Jesus Christ, and relating the purpose of marriage to the magnificent work of Christ and His bride the church.
I consider myself especially blessed that I had a personal conversation with Mr. Clem regarding the most influential men in his life, and the great signs of God’s providence that he desired to make known to a future generation. There was a certain spark in his eye as he related to me his admiration for Billy Graham and the work of his ministry. Mr. Clem’s words were spoken to me in a soft tone with an earnest passion to communicate how God’s hand was at work in his generation. This same tone of reverence accompanied his description of the protection rendered to him as he served in the US Navy during WWII. It was beautiful to see him ascribe gratitude and thankfulness to God for enabling him to safely return home after the war to his beloved wife.
The resulting fruitfulness of this marriage was 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren, resulting in a total thus-far of 28 descendants. Scripture teaches us that one of the purposes of marriage is to raise up a godly seed; it is to teach the future generation, and those yet unborn about the providence and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mr. and Mrs. Clem lived their lives as a testimony of the grace of God. They instructed their children with the Word of God. They taught them the consequences of disobeying the law of God, and the forgiveness of sins found only in the gospel of grace.
With these thoughts and contemplations still in my mind, I received news on Nov. 3 that Mr. Clem had suddenly passed away on Oct. 30. It was a startling realization that the man who just a few weeks prior had declared to me the righteousness of God, was now standing before the very throne of Jesus Christ. As the psalmist declares, life is just a vapor. Our lives our but a moment in the corridor of time. We are placed on earth for the glory of God, with the calling of dominion and obedience to his command to repent and believe the gospel.
The word of God defines the life of man as 70 years, or by reason of strength as 80, and presents the blessed man who fears God as one who will see his children’s children. By the grace of God, Mr. Clem arrived to the age of 90 years, and was permitted by God to see his children’s children’s children. The mercy of God is so tender and sweet to allow a man to live such a full life, and see so much of his generational legacy.
It is my desire that the young men of my generation would learn from aged men and honor those who have lived long on the earth. It ought to be the aspiration of all young men to recognize strength of character in older men, and emulate those strengths in their own life. It ought to be the prayer of my generation that they would recognize the grace of God working in the lives of righteous men, and honor these men who have lived a life that brings glory to our Lord Jesus Christ. For truly the descendants of an aged man are his crown.
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. —Proverbs 17:6