Leaving a Legacy of Faith
Recently, a long-time friend of my family was welcomed into the arms of Jesus. While the sadness I feel is to be expected, I can’t help but reflect on the impact of her life on mine.
Whenever I think of her and her husband (their names are Wilda and Don), I can’t help but think about this one memory. It is one that I associate with them whenever I think about them and their impact on my own spiritual journey.
Journey back twenty some odd years and you’d find me as a nine-year-old. My parents and siblings lived far away from my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. But every year (or nearly that), we’d journey to the great state of Washington to go camping with everyone for a week. This couple was so close with my family that they were always there as if they truly were related by blood.
My large family (as in my immediate and extended family) would rent out a bunch of camping spots at the same campground. As a nine-year-old kid, this was the image of perfection and unity that will always live with me. We became our own little community that week and everything about it was better than Disneyland, at least it was the case in my own nine-year-old brain. I’m sure that the adults at that time probably didn’t view it the same as an innocent child would have.
One afternoon, I decided to go hang out with Don and Wilda. I loved them so much. For some reason, I was always drawn to them. They had been apart of my life for my entire life and it was so weird to one day discover that they weren’t actually related to us by blood. They fit with our family just like any beloved great aunt or uncle could. Anyway, Don always was sneaking candy to us kids, despite every mother’s protest about how we shouldn’t eat candy before a meal because it would spoil our appetite. None of these protests ever stopped Don. Our moms would turn their backs and there was Don, “put this in your pocket.” He always had candy. In many conversations with Wilda after Don had passed, she would always chuckle about how Don would "always sneak the kids candy."
Anyway, I went to visit them in their trailer as they prepared for dinner. I remember sitting at the table, watching Wilda work as I talked with both her and her husband. In front of me, on the table, was a Bible. To me, this was the oddest thing I had ever seen in my nine years of life. I was witnessing a Bible outside of its natural habitat! I remember asking, “Why would you bring your Bible out camping?” I believed that a Bible was meant for Sundays as you’re rushing out the door for church. Now to be fair, my parents maybe did read the Bible. I was school aged, it could have simply been that they waited until the house was quiet and I was at school to pull out a Bible to read. At nine years old, I just didn’t remember the Bible as being a part of our “real” life.
I remember Don’s response that “You never know when you might need it.” Which was another thing that really caught me off guard. Not only did they bring a Bible out camping, when obviously it lived in the church. But they found that the Bible had a usefulness that I had never associated with that Book until that conversation.
Another idea that had completely caught me off guard was that they talked about how they read the Bible every day. At nine years old, I had already tried to read the Bible, a King James Version Bible. While I was an avid reader, I couldn’t make sense of the Bible. I had decided that God obviously didn’t want me because I couldn’t understand what He had written. The Bible wasn’t a Book to be understood. The Bible wasn’t even a fun book to read, simply because it didn’t make sense. These were beliefs I had already formed by then. Throughout this conversation, God had opened my eyes to see that the Bible was more than just a book. It was a useful and meaningful Book. It brought life and clarity. It was actually exciting to read. And you never know when you might need it!
This was their legacy to me. They had taken a simple moment in the middle of a campground, while prepping dinner, to share with me about how God isn’t so great and far away that He doesn’t come close. God is always close. God is always ready to be apart of our life. They had such a beautiful and matter of fact way of bringing God into the conversation. It would still take me a few years to fully absorb the impact of that conversation, but the seeds that were planted are ones that are always with me.
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One thing that their lives taught me is that a legacy of Faith isn’t necessarily passed from parent to child. A legacy of faith is passed from Believer to Unbeliever, or even Believer to New Believer. We never know when those seeds planted in faith will take root. We may never know the impact of our own faith on someone else’s.