A few weeks ago, lazily enjoying a final summer trip with my family, I received an unexpected call with somewhat expected news. My mom’s dad, “Appy,” passed away at the age of ninety-seven. Joy and sorrow mingled in quiet tears. My grandfather was no longer restricted by the slow deterioration of his mind and body that had quietly reduced his days to eating and sleeping. No longer in pain. No longer an Alzheimer’s patient. Best of all, he is with my mother in heaven. That’s a glorious reunion I would love to have witnessed! So much over which to rejoice!
My sadness is for the loss of a great man of God. A connection to my mother. A warm smile, genuine embrace, and voice of love, encouragement, guidance, and affirmation. When you read this, I’ll be in Oregon at his service. Considering what to say, my thoughts naturally wandered through my life and memories, resting clearly on our lineage. Not the embroidered or painted family tree hanging in the hall with photos of the greats and their greats. Rather, the lineage of grace. The branch that leads to heaven, where family is forever.
With the exception of the first four months of my life, I have lived between six and thirteen hundred miles from my extended family. Sadly, we didn’t share birthdays, holidays, and the every day of daily life. At the most, we saw each other once a year. Less as we grew older. Thankfully, distance didn’t stop the Lord from using Appy to tell “to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done… (making God’s testimony and law) known…that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psalm 78:4-7).
God’s testimonies were the rejoicing of Appy’s heart (Psalm 119:11). He loved the word of God, and he saw Psalm 103:17-18 come true in his family: “The mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.”
We don’t take anything with us when we die, and the material possessions we leave behind mean little in light of the void left by the one they represent. I experienced this truth first hand as I wandered my mother’s house after her death. None of her things mattered when all I wanted was another moment with her, and what I value most is the living inheritance my mother left. The spiritual heritage instilled in her by my grandmother and Appy.
Psalm 37:18 tells us, “The LORD knows the days of the upright, and their inheritanceshall be forever.” Appy left behind the ultimate, eternal inheritance. One that rust and moths cannot destroy, thieves cannot steal, governments cannot squander, stock markets cannot threaten. No fire, flood, storm, natural or economic disaster can take away this priceless gift. My heart echoes the praise of 1 Peter 1:3-5: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Because of his love for Jesus, Appy’s “net worth” passed to his children’s children in the form of salvation. Like Paul, God used Appy “to open (our) eyes, in order to turn (us) from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that (we) may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in (Jesus)” (Acts 26:15-18, pronoun changes mine).
Jesus is our portion. He is our inherited wealth. He is the birthright Appy passed to us. Because of him and my grandmother, and through my mother, my children were born with a royal pedigree: children of children of the King of Kings and Most High God. Jesus is now their heritage, too.
Phooey on houses, cars, jewelry, bank accounts, and the like when you can enjoy:
· Forgiveness of sins (Acts 26:18)
· The Holy Spirit as a guarantee of eternal life in heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14)
· Peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7)
· A spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus (Ephesians 1:17)
· Power (Ephesians 1:19)
· Spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:11-12)
· Wisdom given generously and without rebuke (James 1:5)
· Strength in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
· Love and discernment (Philippians 1:9)
· Angelic protection (Psalm 91:11-12)
· Sanctification (Hebrews 13:12)
· Hope (Colossians 1:27)
· A plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11)
· Righteousness you don’t earn or deserve (Philippians 3:9)
· Mercy (Luke 1:78)
· Grace (Acts 15:11)
· Abundant life (John 10:10)
· Freedom from worry (Luke 12:29)
· Provision (Luke 12:31)
I assure you my list falls short of capturing the fullness of this inheritance, but it’s a start. And to top it all off, Isaiah 54:17 tells us, “’No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the LORD.”
What we do and pursue will be the true inheritance we leave our descendents. Are you amassing the wealth of the world to the detriment of eternal riches? Or are you storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20)?
What’s your spiritual inheritance? Are you grafted into God’s family tree, adopted by grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ? Have you received “forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in (Jesus)” (Acts 26:18)?
Maybe no one left you a godly heritage. Start one. The bloodline of Jesus is available to all who place their faith solely in Him. Be the one to establish an inheritance for your children and their children’s children.
It’s not too late. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late.
“O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:5-11).
May Jesus be the inheritance we leave not only to our children but also to those around us as we become more wholly His today.