Legacy: Part 1
My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will walk with you. Proverbs 6:20-21 (ESV)
I have a ring I wear almost every day. Not my wedding ring (which I wear every day), but my grandmother’s ring. She passed away when I was eleven. I cried uncontrollably at her wake. I am the oldest of all my cousins, and I remember the younger cousins being confused, as little ones are at these moments. One cousin, and my little brother, seeing my distress decided to play along. They took Kleenex and pretended to cry too.
My grandmother was pretty amazing. She was the kind of grandma you read about in books. With fresh baked treats, warm hugs, a soft voice and a kind smile. Recently, I was trying to tell my children about her. I’ve tried telling my younger cousins about her too. You see, many of them were born after she passed away, and they never met her. Yet, she lives on in our memories, and in the stories we share.
I look at her ring on my right hand and think how precious this ring is to me. Will it be as precious to my daughter? Or her daughter? What will they remember about grandma? A few stories? Her name? I think about what I know about my great-grandparents. Or any ancestors before that. There was a great-grandpa who was adamant I should have been named Diana or something. There was a great-grandmother who I knew pretty well. There were some stories rattling around in my brain… but not much.
So I started thinking about legacies. Which is an odd sort of thing for me to think about. I’m usually not very deep. But in a few generations, what will anyone say of me? Will anyone remember me? Will I fade away with time? Will my grandma?
I know, I sound pretty morose- even to my own ears!
But then something pretty amazing occurred to me! Someone, somewhere in our family history made a daring step. A new choice. Someone chose Jesus! I was born into a family of believers. What a gift! And it was because of some unknown ancestor of mine. A Norwegian farmer, or a German peasant, an Irishman, or that one random Swede …. And not only that, but there were probably multiple converts. Multiple ancestors of mine who heard the Good News, and said, “Yes! This is what I’ve been looking for!” And they believed, and they passed on their belief to their children, who passed it on to their children…
Maybe I’m the only one who finds this fascinating. I want to know who this person was. How did they hear the Gospel for the first time? What made them so sure? Who were they?
And while I suppose I will not have any of those answers in this lifetime, I do know one thing. Whether or not my children know who my Grandma is, or if my name fades into obscurity with time, I can pass on this legacy of faith to my children. I cannot make them believe, but I can point them in the right direction. Just like my grandma did for my mother. Just like my mother did for me. And hopefully somewhere along the line, my children will do for their children.
Whoever your ancestors were, Names are not so important. There is only one Name that saves. One Name worth knowing. One Name to proclaim. Jesus.