Several years ago now, my daughter-in-law Janelle gave birth to my 10th grandchild. Lorien Nicole Johnson was born at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2009. She weighed in at a whopping 8 lbs. 10.5 oz. and 20” (giant for Jeremy and Janelle). We just celebrated her 5th birthday. Where did those five years go?
The arrival of this unique little person set me thinking, and her birthday has renewed this reflection. What will she and my other 9 grandchildren pick up from the rest of us? What kind of legacy will they inherit? I’m not really thinking about money or other possessions. I’m thinking about those intangible things that come from the example we set for them. And this is not limited to the example set by me as their grandfather, but also by their parents and others who confess to believe in Jesus Christ. What will be left for them by the people named collectively The Church?
This line of thinking fits well with my train of thought lately. For example, I looked up some information about the Bronte sisters recently to help my wife Jeannie with a puzzle (“What is the name of a Bronte sister, four letters ending in “e”?) I was a little surprised to rediscover that all three of them (Charlotte, Emily and Anne) died from tuberculosis at ages 39, 30, and 29. Only the oldest ever married. They all had a difficult childhood. It occurred to me that I have already outlived the oldest by 2 decades. So, I am again asking God to help me weigh my life and work. What is really important? What is only urgent? What is God’s gifting and calling for me (and not just what fits the expectations of others)? This bears strongly on my question of legacy. Surely the answers to these questions will form the heritage we leave for the coming generation(s).
And this certainly affects our present opportunity here at Chestnut Street Baptist Church. We have need at this moment in time (as in others) to build our relationships with each other—truly to become “one body in Christ” (see Romans 12:5). Relationships often need repair. This comes as we confess our sins and offenses and ask for forgiveness. Relationships need nurture. This comes as we spend time together in work and in play, in worship, in prayer and in study.
We also need to trust God both for His financial provision and for His power for service. As usual, we are asking God to provide everything we need to do everything God has called us to do. We are seeking to build on our consistent Bible study program and our recent wonderful Vacation Bible School. We are pumped to see how God is working in the lives of our youth and want to see this develop more and more. We are looking forward to adding some home groups to our ministry this fall to open up even more possibilities for reaching others and growing in Christ. We are committed to impacting this county for Christ, 90% of whom do not worship Him regularly.
As I see it, we want to practice Psalm 145:4: “One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts” (NIV). I want to tell Lorien and her kin how great God is, how wonderfully He provides and how worthy He is to worship and serve. What will you leave for the next generation?