Have you ever thought of the influence you have on your family? I've been pondering this for the past two weeks. I guess it started when we were spending a lovely week with the New England contingent. Knowing the next generation... and the next generation after that... were as passionate about living a Christian life as my husband and I... perhaps even more so. (Yesterday's high school graduation brought even more ponderings but I'll share about them later this week.)
I remembered the decision I made in my youth to not only accept the salvation offered but the desire to live my life for Him. (If anyone asks me why I believe Jesus is real, I tell them because of the change in me.) I knew I was not going to do this entire "Christian walk thing" half-heartedly. It was all or nothing and was to cost me relationships with friends and family.
However, If I had not decided to become a disciple of the living God, I'd never have married my husband since we met in a Christian coffeehouse where I was ministering. My children would not have been born and thus... my grandchildren would not be walking beside me as we toured the Amish home and farm.
If my son-in-law's parents hadn't made the same decision, long after they were married, then he and Stephanie would not have met as part of a campus ministry group. If they had not chosen to live a life reflecting Christ, (as with us... imperfect parents following a perfect Saviour), history would be entirely different. We influenced our children day by day... week by week... year by year. Never perfectly, far from it. As Christopher has told me, living in our family teaches one how to forgive a lot. :)
I believe our children will live out their days on this planet by doing the best they can to instill the importance of following Jesus each and every day. Not a set of do's and don'ts, never with legalism and a lack of love... but teaching them how He will live in them and through them to be a beacon of light in the darkness of this world, to give Hope to the hopeless... to be the troubadours who bring His Word to their own generation. Just like their parents and grandparents, imperfect people following a perfect Saviour the best they can.
How did we reach this point, were there five easy steps to follow or ten rules of parenting which guarantee kids who turn out well? Never... For one thing, I know wonderful Christian parents who were far better than I ever was at instilling Christian values who are bewildered as their children leave the Faith and turn their backs on all they have been taught. Those parents who spend hours praying for the Prodigal to return.
No, we do the best we can each day from the moment we thank God we made it through their birth, the time we teach them how to put tiny hands together to give thanks for their meals, the nighttime Bible stories as we teach them about the imperfect saints of old and improbable heroes... until the day they no longer return to our house each evening after school or work.
Influence... imperfect influence... doing our best but falling as we find ourselves not living up to what we teach, or showing fear when we've taught faith, realizing we have not shown the love of Christ in our own home that day and having to apologize and repent to the family. Letting our influence be one of living the best we can as Christians but also showing our kids we are "but dust" on this sod and preparing them for their own imperfect walk with Christ.
Generations... perhaps I will go back and look at all those "begats" in an entirely different light.