“He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. They would not be like their ancestors—a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.”
I recently came across a quote from an elderly minister, which made an interesting point with regard to generational heritage as many of us see it today: “We’ve given you so much to live with, but we haven’t given you very much to live for.” There was no context given for the quote, so I won’t even attempt to explain his intention. However, his words immediately stirred my mind and my soul. I couldn’t help but reflect on my own spiritual heritage… passed down from my parents and from theirs… as well as the spiritual heritage that my husband and I are passing down to our children.
Without dredging up too much of my back-story, I will say this. My mother did “church” very well… something that was passed down from her mother. Serving our church was never a problem, missing church was inconceivable… honestly, I think we were at church more than we were at home. But, once we left church, once we physically stepped off the premises, Jesus was never mentioned. If you looked at our lives… behind closed doors… there was no evidence that Jesus was even a part of our lives. And I can’t help but wonder if this is why so many of my generation… and the generations after mine… have walked away from the church… have walked away from Jesus.
Through the years, I’ve been able to look back on my spiritual upbringing, with the gift of His grace and mercy…and see the beautiful gift I was given. The Word of God was imprinted on my heart at such a young age… even if only within the walls of my church. However, coming to this realization wasn’t easy because I had to look past the imperfections of my parents. I had to accept the fact that they weren’t perfect; that their parents and grandparents, for generations, weren’t perfect. It wasn’t until I had children that I appreciated this fact… when I saw my own imperfections begin to adversely effect their spiritual growth. I’ve never seen a finer example of where God’s grace is sufficient. I’ve never been so thankful that His grace and mercy is made new each day. The great thing about spiritual heritage is that it isn’t written in stone. We are not held captive by the sins of our ancestors. We must make the decision to intentionally pass on our knowledge of Jesus to our children. We must teach them how to pray and serve; how to put Jesus first in their lives. If we don’t take the time to teach them these things…to live out the Gospel in our own lives everyday… our culture will be more than willing to lead them astray.
Spend time reflecting on you own spiritual heritage. What traditions have you incorporated into your own family? Which have you let fall away? If your kids are old enough, ask them to share their perspective. Please, know this could be difficult to hear… but also realize that this conversation could forever change the trajectory of your family’s spiritual heritage… for generations to come.