By Rev. John Campbell, United Presbyterian, Oakdale
At the beginning of July, I attended the reunion of the family of my mother’s mother’s parents.
This was the 90th year that the family had come together for a reunion.
One of my elderly cousins who was not able to attend because of health wrote this comment: ‘Maybe you and a core group will spark some renewed interest. Our parents enjoyed & loved seeing each [other] yearly.’ This made me think of what we are passing on to future generations.
Then I read a daily devotional of a man from Canada who commented on lilac bushes that early settlers had planted to remind them of their Scottish homeland. He commented how they also brought their Christian faith and principles with them. They started churches, many of which still remain. These were part of the heritage that was passed on to their descendants.
One has aptly commented, ‘We can rightly be proud of our Christian heritage. But in turn, this demands also a contribution from us: that we hand it over in a firm, spirited way to the next generation. Because tradition is not ashes but the embers hidden underneath.’
The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to invest his life in faithful ones who would be able to pass God’s truth on to the next generation. Many think of inheritance in terms of money, yet there is more. It also includes godly character qualities like integrity and trustworthiness. Through the ages, Christianity has brought an answer to the question of knowing who man is, where he comes from, where he is going, what it means to find personal salvation.
As one wrote, what we want to implant is an easy and natural affection for the holy, an inherent connectedness to an on-going story, and a sense of membership within a sustaining community that, being larger than any of us, is always there to hold all of us as well as demand some things of us.
What kind of legacy will we leave? Will it be lasting? Will it be imperishable and eternal? Psalm 78 holds out hope that the future for Israel might be better than the past if those who are mature teach the next generation to know and serve the Lord. In particular, the younger folk need to learn about ‘the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done’. Then the next generation will ‘put their trust in God.’
Your legacy begins in your heart, in your relationship with God. Psalm 112:1-2 reads: ‘Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.’
Ask God to give your children a sense of purpose, direction, and mission. The challenge here is to leave your children a heritage, not just an inheritance. As someone once said, ‘Our children are messengers we send to a time we will not see.’