GARLAND, Texas – Many of us invest much time and expense to preserve a treasured antique or an heirloom quilt so that future generations might know its significance – who owned it, who made it, why it was important to the family.
But do we make the same effort to see our spiritual genealogies preserved? Some of us may be proficient in tracing family trees back many generations. But will those who follow us know which ancestors helped pave the way for us to know about the Lord?
I decided to look back at the spiritual pilgrimages of my forebears and write down for my children and grandchildren the stories of long-ago kin whose godly lives helped point me to Christ. Granted, the old saying is true: “God has no spiritual grandchildren.” We do not inherit salvation just because we had a righteous great-grandparent or a devout uncle.
Nevertheless, I could study who created a fertile ground that helped me eventually be open to the gospel. My own parents, who taught me about Jesus and reared me in a Christian home, headed the list, of course. But before them I identified:
- a great-grandmother who nightly was seen turning to God in prayer, even though she had been left a widow at age 46 with nine children, including a 2 1/2-year-old, still in the home.
- another great-grandmother who leaned on God although her family home had been desecrated during the Civil War and who later lost five babies plus a teenaged son.
- a grandfather who preached his last sermon at age 98 and who until his passing at 99 faithfully visited shut-ins, some two decades younger than he.
- a grandmother, orphaned early on, who became a lifelong Bible student and trusted in her heavenly Father though deprived of her own dad’s presence.
I became determined that generations even unborn would know about these to whom we in our family owe much. I preserved these tales in a book titled Way Back in the Gardenia Rows: Everyday God-Moments and the Recipes that Accompany Them. I included recipes because many of us like to remember what food was served at a significant event – such as after a baptism – or when milestone moments are celebrated – such as the births of our grandchildren.
Some may contend that they didn’t grow up around Christians and have no “way-back” faith story to tell. Then make sure your family knows who stood in that gap – a coach, pastor, Sunday School teacher, neighbor or co-worker who pointed you to Christ. Remember what song the church was singing when you made your profession of faith? Write that down, too, as well as verses that have helped you through challenging times or choruses or the titles of other Christian numbers that uplift you.
Online photo books, self-published volumes and even videos recorded on your cell phone are but a few ways you can lock in this information for a time when you’re no longer on this earth to share it personally. In so doing, you’ll leave behind a priceless legacy.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kay Wheeler Moore of Garland, Texas, is the author of eight books, the co-author of 14 others and a former editor at LifeWay Christian Resources. Her newest title, Way Back in the Gardenia Rows, is available from local and online bookstores.)