by Marlene Houk
Our legacy may bestow upon us that bulbous nose or sprinkling of freckles from our long-gone relatives. Perhaps that fiery temper and musical ability from great-aunt Annie appears again in four-year-old Peter.
What is your legacy? Legacies can be heirlooms such as a grandmother’s wedding ring or a treasured secret recipe handed down such as my great-aunt’s peach pie. When his cousin moved to South Africa, my son still acted like him. Quirks and preferences remained the same for my ten-year-old, surprising me with their consistency. He still acted the same as his cousin even though continents separated them, and I knew it was genetic, at least partially. Sometimes the facial expressions of my cousin mirror those of her sister’s so much that it’s like looking in both of their faces at the same time. The legacy of physical traits bequeathed to each generation come alive in the birthing room as family members comment on the newborn. “Doesn’t he have Aunt Susie’s toes?” or “Look at that head of hair, just like her brother’s.”
Ancestors endow this tiny new addition to the clan with multi-hued layers of colorful stories, awe-inspiring courage, and dark tales of caution. Hopefully, the legacy will include breath-taking faith in God that moves mountains and guides us to our own relationship with Christ.
Such was the case for Sarah, Abraham’s wife who became a great woman of faith. Her story is found in Genesis, Isaiah, Romans, Hebrews and First Peter. Sarah’s direct descent from Adam bequeathed access to her roots and grand stories about the human race, its failures and God’s mercy and love in redeeming it. As demonstrated by The Wall Chart of World History (Professor Edward Hull, Dorsett Press, 1988), Abraham and Sarah “talked with” Shem, (Noah’s son) for 150 years before Shem died. Shem, “talked with” Methuselah for 98 years, and Methuselah “talked with” Adam for 243 years. Their monumental stories of the depths of human darkness and the shining hope of redemption must have stunned the generations to follow. In a modern parallel, my daughter knew her great-grandmother who was born in the early 1900s who probably knew an elderly relative who was born in the early 1800s. That person may have known someone who had talked with George Washington who died in 1799.
God has designed us to be intrigued and guided by stories, and they are easily passed down to descendents along with cultural and genetic predispositions. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the biblical Sarah had access to her own legacy of Enoch’s faith, Noah’s faith, and a myriad of other devout men of God. She lived in Ur of the Chaldees, a sophisticated and metropolitan city with a large library where perhaps resided the census and history of her people. In Genesis chapter 10, the “table of nations” details where Shem’s ancestors settled after the flood. It is the same Mesopotamian region as Sarah and Abraham! Therefore, it is entirely plausible that she talked with her cousins every day, drinking from a legacy which had the power to grow her own faith.
Psalm 61:5 defines our legacy as Christians today:
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.
We have as our legacy today the ones who identify, whether living or dead, with the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus, who died for our sins and was resurrected in power. Their magnificent testimonies, their everyday faith, and their consistent walk with God through failures and triumph call us to greater living in Christ. Even if our physical ancestors were godless and evil, our salvation grafts us into this spiritual legacy, and we are strengthened to fulfill His plan. The impact of their faithful lives stirs in us the motivation to live for Him. The substance of their faith is a raft on the seas of life that gives hope for survival and triumph. And the gifts of their worship, their commitment, and their joy in the Lord encourages us to plop our feet solidly down on the stepping stones to our own faith.
I remember Grandma Greene, 93 years old, her red hair long turned white and wound in a bun, reciting Scripture. I’m motivated to push on, despite the battle, because her faith became a living legacy to me!