THE LEGACY BEFORE US (2)
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
*Note to Readers: Following is the second, & final, entry of my daughter’s thoughts on the value of family legacy. (See the January 2 post to read part 1.)
I do not take the relationships I had with my 4 grandparents for granted. I treasure each & every one of them for the lessons they left me as their grandchild. Their legacies continue in my parents, my sisters & me, and even in my sisters’ children. Lord willing, it will continue in those yet to be born.
I value that when I was a little girl, so scared of the dark that I piled 9 stuffed animals on me, my Grandma Ver Steeg would tuck me in & recite Psalm 23. I still remember the smell of glycerin & rosewater lotion on her hands, & the way her chin quivered whenever she prayed or spoke that scripture over me. She would encourage me to say it when I was afraid. Because of her, I knew that the Lord was my Shepherd. It’s no surprise the binding in my first Bible is broken in 2 sections: Psalm 23 & Isaiah 40 –the second being the first passage of scripture put to memory with my Mom. We lived in Arizona at the time. My grandparents annual, 3-week, visits around T-giving, yielded a lifetime of special memories.
I value & appreciate that my Grandpa Ver Steeg’s lap was always open for me to crawl into. I remember how he would sweep me up in his arms when I ran down the hall. I loved it that when he kissed me, I could smell morning coffee on his breath. 😊 He always got our immediate attention when he shook his Tupperware container full of M&Ms. He never forgot his treat time tradition. I can still picture him reading a book in our recliner. As I got older, he would let me read to him & Grandma. His favorite Psalm was Psalm 15. Reading that chapter recently, I was struck by the fact that he lived what it said. Because of him, I learned about integrity.
I value & hold dear the fact that I could always pick up the phone & call my Grandma Phinney, especially since we lived 23 hours a part. She would not only be a listening ear, but she would pray with me. When I called in my early 20s, Grandma would inevitably tell me that she had just asked the Lord to have someone call…and there I was. Or she would tell me how she had just finished praying for someone in my family. Even the last year of her life, when she was at her worst physically, she would tell me she was praying for my Dad’s heart & his ministry, 3 times a day. I can still hear her sweet voice saying “Oh, yes Lord” whenever I would pray over her & our requests. She was ever grateful that I would pray for all her children to one day walk in Truth & to be reconciled to God, & one another. Almost without fail, when our phone time ended, she would say, “Thank you, Angel. You made my day.” Because of her, I know the power of prayer & intercession.
I value the lessons that I gleaned from my Grandpa Phinney’s life, even though I didn’t know him on a deeply personal level. As per a long-ago, one-time conversation with my Dad, Grandpa said that he knew God wanted him to go into ministry at age 19. Instead, he chose to deny that call & went down his own path in life. As the son of a Quaker pastor, I often wonder what was locked inside of him, so much that he gravitated toward a lifestyle opposite of his upbringing. Grandpa lived with many ramifications from some sinful choices he made early on, that affected both him & his family. On the flip side, he was a man who served his country, with diligence & honor, as part of the 11th Airborne during WWII. Later, in the Air Force, he was part of SAC missions. He had a stunning 23-year career in the military. As I grow older & uncover more details about his involvement, I can see how a lack of knowledge about PTSD, in those days, could have had a negative influence on many of his life choices.
I learned, from Grandpa Phinney, that God will not force my calling on me…I have a choice. God’s sovereign plan will always play out, but my choosing to embrace his plan for my life, or not, seriously affects me & those around me. When I say “no” to the Lord, my loved ones can suffer unjustly. In his later years, he softened…even professing to come to a saving knowledge of Christ. I recall the first time he told me he loved me, & the time he shared his jelly beans with me. On one occasion, he took me along to the grocery store & proceeded to brag about his granddaughters to the checkout clerk. Even with my limited memories, Grandpa’s life taught me to follow the voice of the Lord, because disobedience can have dire results.
For a variety of reasons, I realize that not everyone has the opportunity for relationship with their grandparents. I will say that I know more of us who are unwilling to even attempt building those bridges between the generations. Our culture has infested our minds with the lie that “elderly” people live in a different world & can’t relate to us. They have nothing to offer us. Nowadays, the youth don’t even know how to speak to, or relate to, adults outside of their peer circle. There appears to be no regard for the wisdom evidenced by gray hair, even though the Bible says that gray hair is a man’s honor. (Proverbs 29:20)
Right now, probably 50% of you are arguing with me in your head. The excuses run something like this: “You have no idea what my parents are like…I didn’t know my grandparents at all…I don’t have a good family lineage. It’s full of godlessness…Excuse me! Have you met my crazy family...I’m willing but I don’t think my parents, or grandparents, care…I am the only believer, in Jesus Christ, in my family.” Psalm 78:4-8 is one of my favorite passages to pray over future generations. Specifically, verses 7&8 pertain to our tough questions. “That they should put their confidence in God, & not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, & not be like their fathers, a stubborn & rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart & whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
It’s true. All of us didn’t grow up in a great family environment. Many of us didn’t grow up in a home centered on Christ. And even if you did, a Christ-centered home doesn’t = a perfect home. I realize, a little more each day, the gift I was given, & I don’t take my upbringing for granted. We still had our family pains & dysfunctions, but I know first-hand how much I should cherish my home life & the love of my parents. My Dad is a living, walking testimony of how a surrendered heart can change the tide from a family bound by hellish sins, to walking as a child of the Light. (Ephesians 5:8) Statistics wouldn’t have been in my favor, given my father’s childhood. Yet, because of the grace of a loving God, & some serious life-changing choices my Dad made, I grew up in a Christ-centered home. Just because YOU didn’t have it, doesn’t mean your children can’t OR your grandchildren won’t! As long as you have breath, you can make a difference in the lives of the next generation. What will you choose?
My challenge is this: 1) Study the scriptures, both the Old & New Testaments, & see the importance the Lord puts on generations, descendants, & genealogies. Maybe you’ll discover that the family you were born into wasn’t by chance, or a mistake, that it was planned with a purpose…heartaches & all. And just maybe you’ll come to understand that He is not good only when generations appear healthy, but that His Presence is most evident when they are full of imperfections. 2) DO SOMETHING! If your parents and/or grandparents are alive, invest in them. I don’t care how crazy they are. Believers or not, they have something to teach you, & your life should be used to bless them. God honors those who honor authority. If they aren’t alive- never, ever, forget the next generation, even those yet to be born. (Psalm78) The Lord wants to use you to declare His faithfulness & to proclaim His Life. So, will you join me? Let’s redeem our past, treasure our present, & pray for our future – through the strength of our loving Lord & King. It’s never too late with a God who heals.