A Father’s Legacy – A Heritage of Faith

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A Father’s Legacy – A Heritage of Faith

Be the Dad

Legacy of faith

Just a little about myself – I am the mom of three kids, ages 13, 20 and 25. I was married to my best friend for 26 years meeting at Baylor and who, over time, God knitted us into soul mates. And this morning I want share a bit about my husband, Tod,and the legacy of faith that is growing out to others since he headed into the presence of Jesus almost two years ago.

At the time,Tod and I had just celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary, and a few short days later Tod came down with a stomach virus. Unfortunately, while he was throwing up, he tore his left carotid artery which led to a massive stroke on the left side of his brain. Tod was an incredibly healthy guy, but after three days in the hospital, and what felt like the world was praying for his healing,Tod died. He was 50 years old, and my children and I were thrown into the shock and heartbreak of this devastating loss.

Two years earlier though, Tod had signed up to be an organ donor. Two days later, on Christmas Eve, the doctors wheeled Tod off for surgery to retrieve his healthy organs for the patients who were in desperate need of new life. On Christmas morning, those doctors performed surgeries that brought a new life to those patients through the gifts of Tod’s heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, eyes, tissue and bone. And while those families definitely were celebrating a Christmas miracle that day for their loved one, for me and my children, we were clinging to God together, to the Savior who Tod belonged to, though none of us could have ever conceived that this was going to be our Christmas in 2016. 

Proverbs 13:22 – “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”

As I have stepped into the last two years of life absent Tod, widowhood very present, and single parenting my kids, with the shadows of the loss and grief very present but joy, hope, and much laughter also very present. God has met me in the most abundant ways, more than I could have ever asked for or imagined or chosen. And I have begun to see God’s legacy in Tod’s life, as well as his heavenly life now beginning to unfold. For Tod had and was discovering the truth of WHO he was in His relationship with Christ. That Jesus loved him and he loved Jesus, and that meant he didn’t belong to himself, but rather he, His life, belonged to Christ. God was working that truth over and over again in Him, and it was becoming so evident then and even more so now.

Legacy, the actual word, is not really found anywhere in Scripture, but the idea of legacy is seen in the Biblical words of “heritage & inheritance.”  For today, I want to use legacy in that meaning of heritage, our personal influence and what we are leaving behind us everyday, moment by moment, action by action, decision by decision for you and I leave a daily legacy.

I want to deep dive into the the most intimate space where your truest self exists, where your influence, your legacy is seen and felt in its most raw reality with your wife and your children. For they know better than anyone how you really live.

The fragrant aroma of Christ

And here is the question I would pose for those of us who claim Christ. *Are we, you and I the fragrant aroma of Christ? By this, I mean does your love for Jesus permeate your life in such a way that His love, His truth, His grace is manifesting within you. Not perfectly, but real and authentic in regards to your relationship with Him. Is your relationship thriving with Him or are you simply surviving as a “Christian”? Do you understand that you fully belong to God? No longer to yourself? Does God’s Spirit have full access to every part of you?

You see, children can smell hypocrisy a mile away on any parent who says they value one thing with their words, but whose daily life & actions reveal a different truth. Our kids live up close and personal with us – they hear our junk, they see our sin and our messes, perhaps more clearly than we do ourselves at times. We make time for what we truly love, and our real allegiance will come out especially when we are stressed, troubled, or suffering hits.

And despite our many failings and imperfections, God calls us as believers to be faithful to Him, Deuteronomy 7:9 says it like this, “Know therefore that the LORD your God;he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

We as parents,you as fathers, have to start playing the long game, with love of Jesus leading us to abandon ourselves to a much bigger calling and vision, not just surviving parenting day in and day out until our kids are out of the house. But rather thriving in faithfulness to God day in and day out, so that you would graciously set your children into the most fertile position to grow the fruit of faith in Christ, or another way of saying it – faithfully placing the kindling around their hearts so that when God’s gracious spark of salvation brightens the moment of their dark souls, belief would light up their hearts into a roaring blaze of faith in Jesus Christ for a lifetime unto eternity. Generation after generation after generation!!!

When you love something a lot, you pursue it. Right? The fact that you would take time to come and meet this morning with other dads here tells me that being a dad to your kids is important to you. So to build this kind of a legacy, a heritage of faith; a simple question gets us started. That question is “Do you want to hear from God?” Because if you do, you have to stop and listen. He wants to talk to you, His word is ready to pour off the pages into your heart and mind to reveal Jesus through the power of His Spirit.

You see, we can’t share and live out what we don’t personally know or haven’t personally experienced. But if you know Jesus and your listening for Him – His love will compel you to come and spend time with Him. And that compelling love of Christ calls us to know Him, to study Him, to step into the reality of WHO God truly is by faith. We are told by Jesus in John 8:31 – “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Compelled by the love of Christ

My children saw their dad “compelled by the love of Christ” to seek out time alone with Him. Tod would sit in our backyard most mornings; his Bible, journal, pen, and coffee in hand to seek God out by faith.  My son has told me that now on this side of the loss of his dad “he feels like he has wasted his day if he hasn’t spent time seeking God out in His word.” Tod was diligent in pursuing time alone with God. While Tod was doing it for his own personal relationship with God, the ramifications of his faith in God are continuing to reap tremendous benefit in the lives of my children and me. God is using that to powerfully influence our children because they saw Tod being compelled by the love of Christ day in and day out regardless of the busyness of Tod’s day or schedule. And that devotion reveals this reality; Tod knew He didn’t belong to Himself – He was God’s.

About 14 years ago, Tod started becoming very serious about journaling his thoughts, questions,and personal application on God’s word & some of his prayers for the day to help himself stay focused striving to make his time more fruitful. Our library of Tod’s journals numbers around 24, and they are a legacy of faith in progress capturing for us Tod’s and God’s time together. Those journals are pure treasure to me now, as I have sat reading them myself this year. I know my husband so much better as I have peeped over into these private moments between him and God. But even better, my faith has been powerfully impacted by God’s faithfulness to him.

Over the last few years, Tod had begun to read through the whole of Scripture, flip flopping between reading the whole Bible one year and New Testament the next. Reading whole chunks of Scripture became extremely important to Him. I saw it reap so much benefit in his maturity and faith for he was beholding God’s glorious power and authorship again and again.

When we are soaking our minds and hearts in His word, beholding the truth of who God is -He is transforming our hearts and minds to the truth of who we are in Him.Romans 12:2; “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  God promises that His word does not return void.  So sit in His transformative presence – day in and day out. He will be faithful to transform you degree by degree. 

Help your wife flourish

Side note here:Tod often came in after his time outside with God and wanted to talk about something he had read, or ask me what I thought about a certain passage. He liked to call me the, “Bible answer woman” which was a kind of a joke between us, but it communicated that he honestly valued what I thought. He valued what God was teaching me in His word as well. He listened to me, and I listened to him.

Every wife should be so fortunate to have a husband who wants to hear what God is teaching her, who engages her heart in the deepest of spiritual conversations in faith and life. It is to your detriment if you don’t help your wife to flourish in her love for Christ. For Christ loved the church and gave himself, sacrificed himself, for her betterment, and husbands, that is the glorious weighty call you stepped into when you became a bride-groom. Help your bride to flourish –please – it will reap great benefit for your whole family.

The more you both are leaning into God’s word, the more you as parents, as a team, have to share with your kids about who He truly is & and who they truly are.  And in a world that won’t turn off now –endless voices clamoring to speak into our kids’ head and heart with labels and lies, it is to our children’s destruction if we don’t intervene. We have to bring God’s voice to their ears, that by hearing the truth & seeing it lived out in our lives they will come to know and believe The Truth. I don’t know of a time historically where children & teenagers need fathers engaging with them being the loving voice speaking THE TRUTH over them so that it can settle down into their hearts and souls.

Time well spent

Side note again: Dads, a gentle work of encouragement -that means you have to put your phones down, you have to get off Netflix or anything else that is eating up your precious time.  Time is the most valuable gift you have to give to anyone. It is short, but a vapor, and the day is coming when you will be in the presence of the Holy God. Use your time wisely – in view of the eternal. You can’t get time back once it is spent.

The glorious benefit of sitting in God’s presence and getting glimpses of His holiness is that we can’t help but be humbled by our own smallness and weakness which causes our hearts to be humbled before a holy God which in turn helps us deal with others in humility as well. Nothing could be more completely counter-cultural today than humbleness, but we are not to look like our culture.

How did Christ live on earth?  Philippians 2:7 says, “he emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,” Jesus, the divine, the very nature of God, perfect,without sin, yet He willingly humbled Himself by death on the cross – His sacrifice for our salvation.  For those of us who are in need of that saving because we are sinful, Jesus’ example leaves no room for us to be prideful. Our thoughts and motives will actively participate against humility, but God’s Spirit and truth will empower us to battle it. Marriage and Parenting are great tools for sanctification because they both reveal how selfish and prideful our natural fleshly hearts really are.

But Tod was learning far sooner than I did at how to say two very simple yet powerful words, “I’m sorry.” He was faithful to acknowledge his mistakes and his sin. He modeled for me and my kids the humility of a believer who takes seriously their disobedience to Jesus and the sincere desire to repent and be at peace with one another. Tod sought forgiveness when he crossed the lines, and it has given me and my children a brilliant example to follow.

My husband was daily discovering God’s power inherent in belonging to Christ, and living under the guidance and protection of God’s wisdom – not perfectly – but purposefully and in Proverbs 3:13-16 it says, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding.  For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain is better than fine gold.

I have watched the seeds of faith be sown and watered in my children’s life through their father’s faith in Christ, and I thought I would close out with a few words of truth from my daughter, Lindsey’s Instagram account that she posted a couple of weeks ago. It simply floored me and made my heart so very thankful that our God is a redeeming God bringing light into our darkness and joy out of sorrow, even God’s “NO’s” are filled with His glory and abundant goodness.

*There is beauty in desperation because it points us to our need of a Savior.

*Truth remains the same whether we choose to embrace it or not.

*We are the Lord’s masterpiece despite what the world or our own mind speaks over us.

*Jesus is and only will ever be the fulfilling relationship we so instinctively desire.

These are the truths we want our children to cling to all the days of their lives; for their hearts and minds to marinate and soak in, that they may flourish in knowing that they belong to Jesus Christ and for generations after them to flourish in the abundant ways and love of God.

A final thought from Tod’s journals, “The only lasting legacy is found in glad obedience and faithfulness to our gracious Savior.”  My hope is that this is the legacy we all will leave behind us as believers in Christ until our very last breath.

 

Written by Robyn Bush

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Abiding Fathers is a Biblical fatherhood discipleship ministry committed to helping men be the dad…God wants them to be. It’s a movement of God that is “International-Relational-Generational”. Join with us. We need you!


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