Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. 2 Timothy 1:3-5 (NLT)
Have you ever looked through that box of old black and white photos – the creased, dog-eared and worn memories of those “yesterday” members of your tribe? Paul did that in his letter to his young protégé, Timothy. He showed the young pastor something to which he could “hold-on” in the lean times.
As we stood munching on hot dogs last Sunday afternoon, a member of one of the churches I serve remarked about the early days at that church, and how the memories of the long cement tables in the side yard of the church used to be spread with food from all over the community. The boys would run (seldom after the girls…mostly after a ball or some made-up game). The men and women would talk, smile and laugh.
And it was all a matter of passing along the faith that filled us. That’s why we gather at church in the first place.
Sunday was a record-breaker – 71o in mid-February! And we were standing near the fireplace in the church fellowship hall….a roaring-hot fireplace! We had planned a February youth hot dog and marshmallow roast; and roasting we were! I suggested (only halfway joking) that we turn on the air conditioner to enjoy that fire!
But, as I stood there being warmed by more than the fellowship, I recalled other times of being over-warmed in the little house where I grew up. We had a kerosene heater in the basement that projected its welcome warmth on cold winter days to a single vent in the middle of the four room home. There was no middle ground…you were roasting if you were near it, or shivering if you weren’t.
It usually requires a moment of nostalgia to remind me of that kerosene heater. But there was another kind of warmth there I can never forget; it was the kind Lois passed on to Eunice, who, in turn passed it on to Timothy. It was the warmth of the Gospel and the love of Jesus.
My Mom and Dad were like Timothy’s family. I recall so-often the teaching and living of their faith as the example of keeping focused on Christ. That kind of leadership in the home makes for a strong heritage of faith. My first introduction to the love of God that brought salvation to a dark, hostile and cold world came from the heritage of hearth and home.
And it still warms me!
And it has little to do with nostalgia – it’s all because the heritage of faith is living, active and sharper than any two-edged sword; the faith delivered once to the saints is a fire that lives within.
Whether your upbringing was of the “Norman Rockwell” kind of memory that makes one yearn for the past – or if it was the kind that makes you want to forget the past, remember that Jesus was there, drawing you to His love.
That’s your real heritage!