When we closed down my mother’s house a few years ago, I was given custody of the family Bibles. Not the family Bible, the one with records of marriages, births, and baptisms. My older sister claimed that as a birthright. I held something more dear: Bibles actually used by family members. Inside the cover of my grandmother’s Bible, she wrote her name and then said “I was born 1905 the 5th of January. But best of all I was born again (Praise be His name) on March 27th, 1934”.
Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven as a mustard seed, which is the smallest of seeds, but grows larger than all the garden plants and even becomes a tree (Matthew 13:31-32). My grandmother was one example of how God can begin with a single member of a family and grow his kingdom through that person’s example and testimony of faith. She was not well-educated and never had much money, but through Grandma’s steadfast faith, she impacted many in her family. In the last few years of her life, I remember her words whenever we parted “If I don’t see you here again, I will see you in glory”. Her faith in her heavenly Father remained strong to the end. I wish I could tell you that all of her descendants have come to faith, but there are at least some believers to the fourth generation. God can use the faith of just one person to reach many, who in turn reach others, until a large tree has grown from a small seed.
For those of us who have been blessed with a godly heritage, it is our charge to pass on a legacy of faith to the next generation, through our own children (if God has given them to us) and others. It is a precious gift to know the Lord since an early age and to experience firsthand the example and instruction of godly loved ones. As with the parables of the talents, we need to invest our gift in other people so as to give it back with gain when the Master returns. The Lord will hold us accountable if we ignore this gift and bury it in the ground.
Some of you may identify more with my grandmother than with me. You may be the first in your family to know the Lord, having received your godly heritage from outside your earthly family. You have the privilege and responsibility of starting a heritage of faith within your family, knowing that God is the one who will bring the increase, as he has done with so many before you who were the first in their families.
The Lord is growing his kingdom into a large tree from just a small mustard seed. He calls us to be branches within that tree that will produce even more branches. And in doing so, we will join the great cloud of witnesses whose faith will encourage others to run the race with endurance (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Father, guide us and strengthen us to pass on the legacy of faith that we received, and may your kingdom continue to grow more and more.
Donna Crouch is a member of GRC and a former leader of our Women’s Ministries.