Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Generations: Valuing the legacy of a godly heritage

December may be the month we celebrate Jesus’ birth, but apparently it’s also the month of death.
The passing of four people in my life have warranted mention on my blog – all of them died during the month of December. Perhaps the glow of Christmas lights on homes and trees paled in comparison to the opportunity to experience the enveloping and penetrating light of the glory of God. Perhaps heartfelt tender Christmas carols dulled when given the chance to hear the angelic choir of heaven. I’ve shared the passing of all four with you because each one had a profound spiritual impact not only on my life but on the lives of hundreds around them.

Each one had a story – a reason for which I shared their life with you. For one, her life was a testament to Christ’s power in breaking us free from the confusion of abuse. For another, his story reminded us that the hope of heaven reunites us with loved ones. The third revealed lessons learned from one who lived life serving God.
Yesterday I attended the funeral of Jimmy’s granddad.

None of us are born holy; Granddad was no exception. In fact, quite a few of life’s years passed by for Granddad before the message of God’s salvation started to pierce his soul and transform his life. Somewhere, someone reached out to him as a young man and shared the message of hope.

Granddad later became a preacher himself; I would venture to guess that his fifty years behind the pulpit have changed thousands of lives. But even that isn’t the impact I want to share with you.

As I’m spending time with Jimmy and his family, I see a different kind of lasting impact – the impact of a godly heritage. It may not extend far but it runs deep. Granddad was already married when he humbled himself before God to receive forgiveness for his sins. He and Granny would have raised a family, worked their jobs, and lived their lives even if Granddad had never accepted Christ. It would have looked different but they would have made it happen.
But Granddad’s life changed when he accepted Christ. He studied God’s Word so he knew its message and power for his life. He shared God’s Word so others may know that same message and power. He prayed God’s Word because he knew therein is our power.

He studied for, shared with, and prayed for his children. His influence led them to accept Christ as their Savior. The transformation of this one man spread to the lives of his two children.

It led his children to find godly spouses when they grew up and create Christian homes of their own. Within time, four grandchildren were born and raised in godly homes. What was one became two and then doubled to four.
God decided one of the granddaughters could come to heaven early; her short life ended in her teens. Even in the midst of such a painful tragedy, however, the message of the gospel promised the hope of resurrection and eternal life for the young girl. Salvation was already a truth in her life, despite her young years.

The remaining grandchildren grew to adulthood, married Christian spouses, and started families of their own. One man’s influence became two, which doubled to four, and now has grown to ten great-grandchildren. All ten greats (as Granddad always called them), are being raised in three different godly homes where they also are hearing the message of salvation and the importance of a life transformed in service to God. One by one they are responding to that message. While some are still babies and toddlers, almost all of them have claimed the name of Christ and accepted His salvation in their own lives.

My oldest daughter was the first of that generation. Granny and Granddad drove halfway across the country to visit her when she was only a few weeks old. He held her in his arms and spoke that he never expected her to remember him. He thought God would call him home before she would form any memories. Yet, God blessed him with a long life. That same great-granddaughter is now 16. She wrote on her Facebook wall when she learned of his death, "Today my Great Granddad got to go to heaven. He was the one person who no matter how he felt would always have something to say about God's grace and how much he loved his family. Though I don't have many memories with him, because of long distances, I can't wait to make some with him in heaven. Have fun Great Granddaddy. Love you!"
If Christ waits a few more years before His return, who knows what might happen from those ten greats. Will they all accept Christ? Will they begin ten different Christian families of their own? What impact will they leave on the world? How will God answer the powerful prayers of the Great-Granddad who left a legacy of a Godly heritage for them?

In our instant society, we want to see results now. We want to see broad impact. But let us not forget, we do some of the most important ministry in the home to an audience of our children.
"Know that Yahweh your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His gracious covenant loyalty for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

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