On a recent trip home to visit family, we took an evening to find the graves of my husband’s grandfather and other family members. We discovered that one was a Civil War veteran and even found the grave of my children’s great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather!
Nearly all of my (and many of my husband’s) ancestors lived and are buried in the hills of eastern Ohio. Some branches of the family go back to around 1800 or they can’t even be traced out of the region. Generation after generation lived, farmed, married, raised families, and died there.
For some, visiting cemeteries is a morbid and depressing activity. I’ll admit, it’s not particularly cheerful. However, I do think it’s a good way to stretch my vision and realign my perspective.
My life is such a tiny blip in history.
Finding and thinking about my ancestors gives me the chance to reflect on the reality that I’m shaped by generations of people before me. For example, it’s fun to look back at old family pictures and see genetic traits still peeking through in the family today.
But beyond the genetic shadows of similar noses or eyes or broad shoulders, my ancestors provided me with an even greater legacy.
I am still reaping the blessings of generations of people who followed the Lord.I am still reaping the blessings of generations of people who followed the Lord. Click To Tweet
People who choose to serve God, to seek Him, to live by His truth and pass that on to their family provide blessings for generations.
Now, I also certainly have some scoundrels and unsavory characters among my ancestors. They weren’t all saints. Even the more saintly ones weren’t perfect.
The fact remains, though, I would not be who I am if it weren’t for the many, many prayers of these saints.
I am blessed by ancestors who prayed for their children, valued active church attendance, and persevered in faithful marriages. My life is richer because of parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents who modeled sacrifice, hard work, and love—virtues born out of their Christian faith and convictions.
Some were people who read their Bibles every morning; others made quilts to give away and cooked meals for their poorer neighbors. Some talked to their children about kindness and compassion when they heard someone being teased, and others made sure to teach their family how to value and care for God’s creation as stewards of nature.
I have the examples of people who endured suffering and miserable circumstances, but chose life and tenderness instead of succumbing to bitterness and despair.
I have people in my lineage who lived with disappointment and broken dreams, but trusted in Christ’s eternal life and redemption. People who decided that living life faithfully—with integrity and perseverance—was more important than their personal gratification.
Do you realize how tremendous that is?
Countless faithful followers of Christ before me, however imperfectly, spent their lives seeking, serving, and praying—and their lives, their prayers, and their faithfulness have had an impact on who I am today.
Through their prayers to God, through their perseverance and faithfulness, they laid the groundwork for my faith. I had ready examples of familial love, sacrifice, honesty, integrity, compassion, respect, and faithfulness. Because of their devotion to Jesus and passion for His truth, I didn’t have to search around in the dark for Christ—he was placed before me daily from my birth.
You may not see all the blessings God can bestow for your faithfulness. But your family, your grandchildren, your neighbors, friends, and community are all recipients.
Praise God for the life and prayers of the saints around us!