New life… Spiritual legacy
by Sharon Simpson
Yesterday, a new baby entered this crazy and wonderful world. I know that it happens every day, but yesterday, that baby carried my DNA – maybe my eye colour, my hair colour or my ability to wiggle my ears. A granddaughter. My granddaughter. Our family has grown and on both sides she is the first great-grandchild in our circle to enter this world.
Generations gathered at the hospital to welcome our precious newest one into our family circle. We didn’t do much but love and enjoy her presence. The memories flooded the room – memories of how each of us were born into this world and how the joy was immediate and encompassing, even when the circumstances were not always ideal.
Not far away, another baby was born into our larger family circle this week – a precious baby boy. He is a grandson for my husband’s cousin. These two babies share the same ancestors; their great-great grandparents. These little babes are third cousins. They share some of the same genetics, the same heritage and the same historic journey that brought the family to Canada as refugees from a war-torn country. They share the same root of faith in God that strengthened generations through God’s love, His power, His comfort and His joy.
And through this shared genetics, these two little babies enter the legacy of their great-great grandparents who passed away more than 25 years ago.
For high school graduation, my husband received a gift of a Bible from these two – his grandparents. Although faith in Christ was not a part of his life at the time, he valued the gift from his grandparents. When he left for university to play football on the other side of the country, he packed that Bible along with him. He didn’t open it, but he respected it. He respected his grandparents. He loved them and he extended that love to respect the Bible they gifted to him.
Years later, my husband would embrace God’s forgiveness and new life through Christ and would eventually make his way into a calling of Christian ministry. This Bible, a treasured gift, now sits on his bookshelf in his study at the church he has pastored for 13 years. It is a reminder of the spiritual legacy given to him through his grandparents.
We all have a legacy whether we want one or not! For those of us who follow Christ, we want our legacy to include the rich grace and mercy of God in the lives of the generations who come after us. We want these new lives to know the joy of unmerited favor, the freedom from shame and bondage, the grace of unconditional love, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the depth of peace that surpasses all understanding.
It is never too late to intentionally leave a legacy that lasts for generations. For those who are in their 80’s or 90’s, leaving a spiritual legacy takes on a different flavour. Resources and energy may be depleted. It may be that there are too many people in the family tree to know each one as you would desire. How can you leave a lasting legacy? In this stage of your life, there are two powerful ways to pass on a spiritual legacy to the generations who come after you.
Pray for the generations who follow after you
The Bible teaches us to pray for the next generations – that they will set their hope anew on God, not forgetting His glorious miracles and obeying His commands (Psalm 78) and the prayer of Psalm 102 – Let this be written for a future generation – that a people not yet created may praise the Lord!
There are a few things that bring grandparents and great-grandparents to their knees in prayer like a need in the lives of their descendants. Over the years of trusting God, seniors have a growing understanding that without God’s intervention, a heart cannot be transformed, a life cannot be changed, a miracle cannot happen. With limited energy, time or resources to work it out themselves, seniors have learned to call on God for His intervention in the lives of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Seniors have been around the block a few times and have seen that the current crisis is not the end of the story. They’ve seen human effort fail, but God’s intervention bring victory. They have seen that all the effort to contrive a solution, does not guarantee an outcome. They have seen that even in the darkest moments, God’s love and comfort is a rock of strength. They have learned how powerless feels in situations where they have no ability to make a change –a tumor that returns, a broken marriage, an addiction that has a relentless grip. They turn to God in prayer – to find comfort, peace and spiritual breakthrough. Prayer is a beacon for the next generations – a calling to trust the One who is trustworthy. Through prayer, seniors lead out in trust and in hope.
Share your stories
You may not be famous or powerful or the first to do anything spectacular. You may have lived a quiet life of faith, hope, love and peace. You may actually be a little boring with your predictable ways and your long obedience in the same direction. Do your stories matter? Yes!
More than any other time in history, it is possible for your descendants to learn about you and your life. They will search databases like Ancestry.ca and find your birth certificate, marriage certificate and tickets for the ship you took to come to Canada. They will want to know everything about the generations that lived before them.
This is your opportunity to share an enduring testimony of God’s faithfulness to you throughout your life – not just the easy times when following God was simple. You can tell about the times when you were comforted by God, the times when God provided you with food, clothing and shelter. There are times when you gave up on God or hid from what you thought was His anger toward you. There are questions that plagued you and the process you had to resolve those questions. There were times when God asked you to obey, perhaps giving generously to others when you could have kept your resources to yourself. You can tell of convictions that you could not waiver from – even when others mocked you.
Will you share your stories of your faith journey and in doing so, preserve the memories of God’s faithfulness through the generations? Write them down, record them, tell them to your children and grandchildren.
Today, I’ll head back to the hospital to hold our new granddaughter once again. We’ll memorize her beautiful features and marvel at her tiny fingers and toes. We’ll pray a blessing and dream of good for her future. We’ll share in the prayers of generations past for God’s protection and safety.
As she grows in stature and in wisdom, both she and her third cousin will hear the stories of their shared great-great grandparents who trusted God’s goodness after seeing the horrors of civil war. They’ll learn how their great-great grandparents welcomed refugees into their home and gave generously to those in need. They’ll learn of how their great-great grandparents defied the religious leaders and extended grace to an unmarried pregnant loved one in an era where shame was public. Our granddaughter will hear how her grandpa received a treasured Bible from her great-great grandparents long before he was a pastor. She’ll learn that God’s presence and faithfulness is her legacy, lived out through normal people with the faith of a mustard seed whose lives experienced the richness of God’s grace and mercy. And that, my friends, is a spiritual legacy.
Sharon Simpson is the Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement at Menno Place in Abbotsford