I had the unspeakable blessing of being raised by committed Christian parents. Dad and Mom knew Christ Jesus as their personal Savior and were devoted to serving Him and His people. They loved God’s Word and sought to live faithfully by it. They were careful to lead their children to the Savior, to teach us the way of the Lord and to encourage us to obey and serve Him.
If ever I find myself taking my Christian heritage for granted, all I have to do is look back one generation to be reminded how blessed I truly am. Both my parents are first-generation Christians. If God’s saving and sanctifying grace had not intersected their lives, I would have had a very different upbringing in a non-Christian home.
While my mom was growing up her parents were good moral people but not churchgoers. (They professed faith in Christ later in life.) As a young girl my mom attended a summer Bible school at a small Brethren church in the village of Ozark in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As the church had no regular pastor at the time, a Presbyterian minister and his wife, Rev. and Mrs. Morrison, came from lower Michigan to conduct the children’s Bible school. They clearly presented the Gospel and invited the children to trust in Jesus as their Savior. At nine years of age my mom responded to that invitation and committed her life to Christ.
I don’t know if that faithful pastoral couple even knew of Mom’s commitment that day. But likely by now in heaven they’ve learned of the spiritual fruit their Gospel witness bore not only in my mom’s life but also in the lives of her children and grandchildren.
A number of years after Mom came to faith in Jesus she met and married my dad. After Dad’s stint in the Army, they moved to East Lansing so he could finish his college education at Michigan State University. They had two young children at the time, and Mom was eager for them to receive some Bible training. So at her encouragement (and through God’s gracious providential guidance), they started attending a Grace Brethren church in nearby Lansing.
Like Mom, my dad had been raised by good moral parents who did not attend church or profess personal faith in Jesus. Dad grew up believing that the way to get to heaven is by living a good life. But Rev. Dick Sellers, the pastor of the church Dad began attending in Lansing, taught that eternal life is God’s gift through faith in Christ rather than something we earn by our own good works.
“That preacher is wrong,” Dad thought to himself, “and I’m going to prove it to him!” He went home and started reading through the New Testament, searching for all the verses that show we get to heaven by our good deeds. But what he discovered was that he was mistaken and the preacher had it right. Convinced by Scripture, Dad placed his trust in Jesus as his Savior.
About a year later Dad sensed the Lord leading him to prepare for vocational Christian ministry and went to seminary. While he and Mom were there I was born. During Dad’s first pastoral ministry several years later I was reborn when he shared with me the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ and led me to the Savior.
As I’ve gone through my adult years my appreciation has grown for the rich spiritual heritage the Lord has blessed me with – first in bringing salvation to our family beginning with my parents, then in the abundant spiritual blessings and advantages that I and my siblings were raised with as a result.
Some of you readers, like my parents, are first-generation believers. Doubtless you are well aware of God’s goodness in bringing salvation to you though you did not have the advantage of a Christian upbringing. May the Lord mightily use you to pass on a godly heritage that will continue as a tremendous blessing to your family for generations to come.
Others of you, like myself and my children, are second- or third-generation Christians. Still others of you come from a strong Christian heritage that stretches back several generations. May all of us who have received such a blessed heritage not take it for granted. Instead may we regularly and heartily thank God for such a rich blessing and earnestly seek to do what we can to pass on that same blessing to the future generations of our family.
Copyright 2013 by Vance E. Christie