The other day I was musing on my spiritual heritage, and thanking God for all the people he used to bring my parents to faith in him. On Dad’s side it stretches back generations. On mum’s side it includes a teacher, who took her RE class to a Billy Graham Crusade, where mum responded and was linked in with some wonderful people in her local church who discipled her brilliantly.
And now it continues down the line, through me and my brother to his children, and hopefully, in time their children, and their children…
But what about me? Does the line stop with me, simply because I never had children? It could, if I let it. I could receive all the wonderful blessings of this heritage and of the faith and let them fill my cup and stay there. That would be tragic indeed.
But it needn’t.
Mum wasn’t the beginning of my Christian heritage on her side, it stretches back through the teacher who was bold enough to organise a trip to hear an evangelist, and further, to whoever introduced that teacher to Christ, and whoever introduced them and so on and so on, back to Abraham (Galatians 3).
The Bible teaches that we – all believers everywhere – are members of one family. We are brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, all because of our faith in Christ. We didn’t just receive an individualistic salvation, but were adopted into a new family, and given the name of that family. The blood relationships we have are still real, but they are secondary to the covenant relationship we have in Christ.
I may not have physical children, either by blood or by legal adoption, but I am richly blessed with spiritual children – the people I witnessed to at school, at least one of whom is still going on in the faith; the people who have come to faith through missionaries I support; the people in my sphere of influence who maybe didn’t come to faith through my witness, but have been helped to stay on the path and to grow into the next phase of spiritual maturity.
When I listen to the UK Blessing (or this Makaton version), I am not excluded from that wonderful section about God’s favour being upon me and my family and my children and their children…for a thousand generations. I don’t have to put on a brave face, and try to be happy for those to whom it applies. No, I can sing it with joy, receiving it as God’s faithful promise to me.
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labour!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.” (Isaiah 54:1-3)
God’s favour is not only upon those who are already favoured in the world’s eyes, or who conform to the culture’s expectations, or who have already received the desires of our hearts. His eye is on the widow, the orphan and the outsider. He sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). His blessings are abundant and his promises are good. He is for me. He is for you.
This post first appeared on ThinkTheology.