Grandma taps on the door as I rouse from sleeping in her comfy bed with the prettiest blue and green quilt. I smile as I wake up and see her. She is still in her nightgown. I know she has been up for a while because she has a pencil and newspaper in hand–probably doing a crossword puzzle or reading a story. She tells me she has made pancakes and that there is also chocolate milk on the table. Chocolate milk is still my favorite in the morning. She and I talk at the table as we eat, and then we slowly begin the day. I know we'll go out to the garage. This is where Grandma keeps all of her and Grandpa's old storage, but for me, the contents of that room mean countless stories for her to tell me.
The Most Important Story
Whenever I would stay at my grandparents' house, my favorite thing to do was to rifle through that garage and hear those stories about all that happened in years past. My grandparents carried quite a legacy. They traveled the world and lived in many different cultures and countries, some even slightly dangerous, all while carting my dad and his two brothers with them.
Listening to my grandma tell me stories about her past always made me think about the stories I wanted to be able to tell my grandchildren someday. And while I can't wait to share the story of how I met my husband or how it felt to hold my son for the first time in my arms or what it was like to walk into our first home, the most important story I will tell them is of how God has saved His people through Jesus–the story of redemption.
Many times, we walk through our days unaware of how decisions and commitments we make will impact people who have yet to even walk the earth! It is understandable why this is so. The world we live in focuses so much on the here and now. The future seems so distant–even scary. Someday though, we will have our own garages or attics filled with memories, and there will be little ears and eyes looking to us to answer their questions and tell them our own stories.
Imagining yourself speaking to your future grandchildren about the Lord and how He has been faithful is a wonderful spiritual exercise, even though it may seem unusual. It can remind you of what matters and what you should hold onto. It makes you rehearse His faithfulness to yourself.
The idea of a spiritual legacy is beautiful, but practically, what does building it look like? What kinds of things can you say yes to now in order to be able to rightly proclaim the Lord's faithfulness to the next generations? I am a young woman in my twenties, but after being mentored by several women who have walked with the Lord much longer than I have, I have noticed several common spiritual habits in their lives. Here are three to consider:
- A Dedication to God's Word
The most important thing you could do today in building a spiritual legacy for your family is to be in your Bible. And though how we accomplish time in the Word may look different from season to season, these moments we dedicate are incredibly valuable. Do not underestimate the power of the Bible and the time you spend in it each day. As you give more of your time to it, His Word will change you. This will then change how you interact with others and how you speak to them, which will in turn influence the culture of your family. The Holy Spirit's work in sanctifying you as you study the Word of God has a direct impact on your loved ones. Do not neglect your Bible.
And while your personal time in the Word will most significantly influence everything else you do, the extent to which the Bible plays a role in your household will affect your family members as well. The more your friends, neighbors, family, and children are exposed to the Word of God in your life and home, the more they will desire it. Consider the following:
- How can I place Scripture around my home so those who live here and those who visit can see and read the Word of God? Can I put it up decoratively? Can I display verse cards on mirrors or windows?
- How can I play Scripture audibly in our home? Practice a routine of family devotions at breakfast or dinner–reading the Word aloud together would be wonderful! Maybe during your morning or bedtime routine, your family could listen to sections of Scripture.
Saturate your home with the Bible and its truth. Generations after generations of your family will be thankful.
2. A Record of Faithfulness
Some of my favorite items to find in my grandparents' or parents' belongings are old notes and letters. It is so fun to read what they were thinking during certain points in their lives, and it makes me wonder what they were like and what kind of life they lived. There were no avid journalers in my family, and I deeply wish there would have been. Journals full of my favorite memories, thoughts about the Word of God, and lessons He has me taught through the years are some of my most treasured possessions.
Because there were no journalers in my family, I am determined to keep journals myself. While these journals right now are records of conversations I have with the Lord–one that only I look back over and read–I do know that one day they could be in the hands of other family members, especially because I hold onto them. How encouraging would it be for your family members to read about the Lord's faithfulness to you! Even after you have gone to be with the Lord, though you may not be physically present with your family, when they take out your old journals your voice can still point them to the goodness of God! These journal entries do not have to be long. You could write a couple of sentences every day about what the Lord is teaching you, what you are wrestling with, or what you are thankful for. These memories are so vital to us as we reflect on our spiritual growth and how we are becoming more like Christ.
3. Traditions That Matter
Most people only discuss family traditions around Christmastime, but there are valuable, simple family traditions we can practice day to day that point our families and guests to the wonderful glories of the gospel. Some families of believers have traditions in place because of faithful family members generations before them who began the tradition. What is something that you could slowly and intentionally begin practicing with your family that maybe future generations will as well because of the habit you set into motion? Here are some ideas to consider:
- We already mentioned family devotions, but another practice to consider is family worship. Some of my own family members sing two to three short, simple songs with their children before bedtime, and then they read a Bible story together. This is an intentional tradition that they faithfully do each day, even when some days hold tantrums and tired babies. Their kids know so much truth about the Lord because they sing about Him all the time!
- Another intentional tradition could be to take spiritual retreats with each of your children every year. One of my church elders takes his son on a camping trip every spring (they still do this, and he is twenty-five), and the father carefully thinks about questions he can ask his son that pertain to his growth in Christ. These retreats do not have to be overnight or overwhelmingly extensive, but how could you give intentional time every year to ask each of your family members how they are doing with the Lord and encourage them?
God will use everything we do for His glory–from singing Christ-honoring music with our family before bedtime to praying out loud while we do dishes. It can all be done to make His name great.
Let His Name, and Not Ours, Be Known
There are many more habits and practices that contribute to the spiritual legacy we leave behind, but as we seek to implement them daily, let us ask the Lord to let our greatest legacy be our love for Jesus and His grace that brought us into fellowship with Him. One day we will have family members who will not know who we are or even remember our name, but if our love for Jesus and making His name great to our family and community is what we live for, they will feel the effect of our day-to-day faithfulness. Jesus will be glorified, and that is what matters.