I’ve been blessed to come from a long line of believers. My dad was a preacher, along with two of my uncles and my maternal grandfather. Even my great grandparents were people of strong faith. Without (I hope) sounding boastful, there is one word that comes to mind when I think of my family tree: legacy. In my family, there is a legacy of faith that I’ve always been proud of and hoped to pass on to my children.
My grandpa and grandma are the two godliest people I know—they raised six children on faith alone, which was always enough even when the money wasn’t. Those six children, today, have their own children and grandchildren, virtually all of whom love the Lord. My grandparents also pastored a church—the same church—for nearly 50 years. Thinking about the passion and perseverance it took to keep serving all those years is almost too much to grasp. They are also two of the greatest prayer warriors I know. Frankly, if I’m ever in a crisis, there is no one I want going before the throne of God in prayer for me like my “Nana and Papa.”
Their reputation of faith is well-known too. In our small town, it’s not just our family that knows who to turn to in times of need. Over the years, they’ve ministered to an endless number of neighbors, friends, and strangers who needed prayer, a hot meal, or a bill paid.
My mom (their youngest daughter) and my dad have continued their faith legacy well. Now in their twelfth year of pastoring, my parents do so much more than prepare sermons for Sundays. They spend consistent, quality time with God, in prayer and in His word. They pour themselves out daily for the needs of their church members, those in the community, and for my sister and me. They are the greatest examples I know of consistency, faithfulness, and sacrifice.
And then … there’s me.
Recently, my husband and I took our two daughters to family camp at Pine Cove. The theme of the week was “Legacy: You Leave What You Live.” And the thing that struck me the most, from the entire week of teaching, was when the camp director reminded us that we leave what we live, not our intentions.
I cannot expect my family’s legacy of faith to transmit to my children if I am not intentionally imprinting it on their hearts and living it before them. You see, I have a lot of good intentions. I often envision my children being missionaries or church leaders, but then I get so busy and distracted that I skip my quiet time with God (for five days in a row!).
What I realized that week is that good intentions are not good enough. I can have Scriptures hanging on my walls and a Bible on every shelf (both good things) but if I’m not picking up the Bibles and living out the Scriptures, then I’m missing the point. Children are smart enough to see through the facades we put up, and more than anything else, they will look at how we live to determine how they will as well.
I absolutely do not want to be like the generation preceding the Israelites in Judges 2:10.
After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.
This was one generation after the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea! How could these people not know God? Their forefathers didn’t pass on their faith, and in just one generation, it was lost.
Just because I have a heritage of faith before me doesn’t mean I will have one after me if I don’t do my part in passing it on.
Lord, help me to intentionally pass on my faith to the next generation so that my children will “know the Lord and what He has done.”