It was Tuesday, May 17, 1994. The east Texas sun warmed the afternoon air as we buried my 91-year-old grandmother beside her husband in Laws Chapel Cemetery on the outskirts of Atlanta, Texas. Grandpa Horace had preceded her in death by more than 25 years. He had been a faithful gospel preacher during his time. Mama Grace was a diligent student of God’s word, and had taught numerous Bible classes throughout her lifetime. These were my Dad’s parents.
Four and a half years earlier, just after Christmas 1989, we buried my Dad in Georgetown, Texas. He spent many years preaching the gospel in both English and Spanish. He served as an elder in three different congregations of the Lord’s church. He was a brilliant Bible scholar and a man of impeccable character and unswerving conviction. His spiritual leadership in our family was unmistakable. There was never a question about where we would be on any given Sunday morning, Sunday night, or Wednesday night. That was clearly understood from the word “Go”, and was strictly non-negotiable. How many young people can say that today?
A year after my Dad’s death, we buried my maternal grandmother in Alice, Texas. Three years later we buried her husband, my grandfather, by her side. Grandaddy had served as an elder in the Lord’s church, and Grandmama stood faithfully by his side. They raised three wonderful children, one of whom is my sweet Mom, who was so influential in the spiritual upbringing of my four brothers and me.
So what is the point of all this?
The point is simply to gratefully acknowledge how truly blessed I am to have such a strong, rich, deep-running family heritage of faith in the Lord and faithfulness to His cause. A grandfather who was a gospel preacher, another who was a faithful elder. Two grandmothers who were devoted to the Lord and to their families. Parents who instilled within all five of their sons a deep love for the Lord, His word, and His church.
Timothy also had a strong family heritage of faith. His mother and grandmother are specifically mentioned in Scripture as having been instrumental in shaping Timothy’s faith as a young boy (2 Timothy 1:3-5). Paul said that Timothy had known the Holy Scriptures from the time he was a child (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Such a legacy of faith is a tremendous blessing. But with the blessing comes a burden of responsibility.
When Ashley and Justin were growing up under our roof, those two precious young souls were looking to me and to Susan to figure out where God fit into their lives. Ashley has since gone on to be with the Lord; and even though Justin is now almost a grown man himself, and the most opportune moments for imprinting his heart with a deep faith in God are now behind us, I must continue to preserve that heritage of faith that was handed down to me through the generations, and continue to pass it along to him. Someday Justin will give us grandchildren, and then Susan and I will play the role in their lives that Grandpa Horace and Mama Grace, and Grandaddy and Grandmama, played in my life. We will be the grandparents who are helping reinforce a legacy of faith in their lives.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
And maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, I don’t have the kind of family history you have. I don’t have a family heritage of strong devotion to God.” That’s OK. Start one!
If you are a parent or a grandparent, ask yourself this question. What if the apostle Paul were writing a letter to your son or daughter, your grandson or granddaughter? Could he say the same thing to them that He said to Timothy? Could he write your name in place of Lois or Eunice, as one of the people who had a great influence in shaping your child’s or grandchild’s faith?
I challenge you to make this a top priority in your life.
- Teach your children the Bible, and instill within them its eternal importance.
- Show your children how important the church is in your own life.
- Pass the torch to your children and grandchildren – or light the torch if you have to – of a rich family heritage of faith in and devotion to God and His word and His church.
The world, the church, and your family (both now and for generations to come) can only be better as a result.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)