Every one of us was born into a spiritual culture that helped us find our feet in the world — a paved road, if you will, to assist us in life. We came with a blank memory bank, then those close to us began to fill it with information to guide our steps into the great unknown. A template for the how-to’s of life, was prepared for our arrival. I am talking about your spiritual heritage.
In this episode I want to pay homage to my forbears and offer gratitude for their role in the formation of my life. Most of all though, I hope to draw your attention to your own inheritance — things that you received to live by and pass on to the next generation. It would be cruel to hide healthy principles that guided our forefathers from our posterity, and leave them rudderless in a broken world.
In His desire to bring a nation of many backslidings back under His care, God reminded the faithful in Israel of their origins:
Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him. Isaiah 51:1,2
Family members share blood and genetics, but it is the spiritual component that really matters as it casts a beam of light over your entire life, even into eternity. Israel was born from a man and woman of unwavering faith who trusted Him while coping with the shame of barrenness. The steadfastness of their walk with Him, and the ultimate outcome of their faith, became the example that God called them back to.
Do you know the rock from which you were cut, and the pit from which you were dug? There may be some treasures there that can help you understand yourself, and explain why you were planted in a particular family. You are, of course, a unique individual in your own right, but there may be a heritage laid up for you to help you along with your own assignment. The spiritual wealth left for you may be more valuable in your quest than any financial inheritance could ever do. Look to the closely held values that preserved those that came before you, for they are testimonies of how to do life without falling into the many traps set up by the enemy of your soul.
It is futile to spend energy and resources on reinventing the principles prepared for you by your forefathers. The same values that they lived by will protect you from the lures of the world that lead to empty hands on Judgment Day — and the frustrations that harass you along the way. God’s blessing is poured out where His will is done, and a life that seeks to please Him, will not go without it.
Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set. Proverbs 22:28
A story that my paternal grandfather told me kept me pointed in the right direction from my early youth. He started life as a farmer, but drought brought hard times and he was forced to find work on the railways to make ends meet. While working there he stole some tools, and remodeled them for use on the farm. Then he heard the gospel, and surrendered his life to Christ. Repentance includes restitution, so he took those tools to his supervisors and told them what he had done — and why he brought them back. Nobody ever did such a thing before, and they were stunned. They told him to keep the tools.
That brutal honesty became a spiritual asset in our family. Doing what is right, even if it comes with risks, is a value that carries God’s blessing. Yes, the stakes are high, but it reflects the reality of our salvation in a very visible way.
My grandmother was ostracized from her family when she surrendered her life to the Lord, and they refused to have anything to do with her from that day on. She was not even allowed to attend her father’s funeral years later, and had to stand at a distance while family members comforted each other at his graveside. She valued her salvation above everything else by refusing to compromise her faithfulness to the Lord. You cannot please God and men because pressures mount, or when it comes with great loss. Her unshakeable commitment to follow the Lord while carrying a heavy cross added another gem to my spiritual heritage.
The honour and accolades of people may offer temporary benefits at best, but a truly fulfilled life rests on a foundation that withstood many tests and trials.
There are many such stories that helped me understand where I came from, and how to navigate my life; these are guiding lights on my path that always bring me back when I veered off course. Were those people perfect? Of course not, but their lives were tangible examples of what it is to honour God, no matter what the devil threw at them.
I often wish I could sit down with my father or grandfather and ask them what to do in a world that is spinning out of control, so void of morals and sound wisdom. It is not possible, of course, but I have seen their practical faith during times of challenge, and that continues to inspire me. The storms in my own life have been plenty, but I always felt that I was part of something bigger than myself, and that the roots of my faith ran deeper than I thought, because I could draw from the testimonies of those who ran this race before me.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance. Psalm 16:6
The point of all of this is not to boast, but to remind us that we have a legacy to pass on to our offspring. Do you have stories that your children can hold onto when they are overwhelmed? Be sure to fight your battles where it can be seen. Remember, the victories of your faith do not die with you, they continue to speak for generations to come. We have this testimony of a man of faith who paid the ultimate price, yet still speaks as if he never died:
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. Hebrews 11:4
Your life is about much more than yourself! Your sacrifices for truth, your conduct under trying circumstances, your clinging to life-giving principles while under threat of loss or pain, are the highlights by which you will be remembered. Your children will talk about the times when you confessed your faith in the face of hopeless situations, because they saw you standing with your back against the wall without yielding to the weakness of the flesh.
God revealed His plans to Abraham because He knew he would teach His ways to his children:
For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” Genesis 18:19
Why is it that generations weaken over time, like copies made of copies made of copies? Could it be because they have become detached from the spiritual foundations of their forefathers? King David made some discoveries worth looking into:
Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses. He himself shall dwell in prosperity, and his descendants shall inherit the earth. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 25:12-15
Both Abraham (the friend of God) and David (a man after God’s heart) were entrusted with the secrets of God. What powerful lives they lived!
One thing that you can be assured of is that you were not put on the earth to survive and then die. Look at the bigger picture of your life; there is a context that must be taken into account. Cherish the inheritances that you received, and add to it your own spiritual nuggets by living a life dedicated to the Lord. If you are a first generation believer, both the privilege and responsibility are yours to lay that foundation for your children. Be aware that your tough times create testimonies of the goodness of God and your faithfulness to Him — the only inheritance that your progeny can take with them into eternity.
Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. Psalm 78:1-4