“His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him” (Luke 1:50).
I read those words early Thursday morning before I went to visit my dad one last time before I flew home from a frigid Springfield, VA to my temperate home in FL. Dad was awake enough to FaceTime with my three kids and most of their kids. In those moments, I had a front row seat to God’s mercy from generation to generation to generation to generation!
There is no way to explain the generational faithfulness in our family other than the grace of God. Mom and Dad did little more than fear, love and trust God above all things, raising three children who are still active in church life. (My brother and I are pastors. My sister is a church musician.) All of my children are active church members, and are doing an amazing job of raising their children in the Christian faith. None of it was forced. None of it is a battle. It’s just a part of who we are.
But they aren’t the only ones. My in-laws also raised their family in the fear and knowledge of God, a spiritual legacy passed along from my wife’s side of the family, too. Because they worship with us, I get to see those four generations every single Sunday. I hate to admit it, but I often look right past that miracle. A few moments with dad opened my eyes to it once again.
Though I spent a few hours with dad each day, he was only awake for a few five minute stretches. Our conversations were brief and repetitive. Though he knows when I am there, I doubt he’ll remember my visit. As he dozed, I added new photos of his grands and great-grands on my side of the family, a poignant reminder to me of his importance to the family.
Sometimes we wonder why dad has lived so long. I think he sometimes wonders the same thing. Obviously he is still has a few things to teach. His presence reminds me not to congratulate myself too much because I or my family is faithful. God used my father to plant some seeds that have grown more than any of us could have imagined! Maybe he’ll use me to do the same thing.