I recently went on a popular website to get a look at my ancestors. Truth be told, I was hunting to see if I could find any family members who might possibly be on the Cherokee Indian Roll. What I found was much more fun!
With enough information, the website can show you a family tree so large and so extensive you get the feeling that at some point there should have been some royal blood and maybe, just maybe, you’re the lost prince or princess. Nope. My family kept branching and branching and then finally got smaller and smaller with the fewer bits of information. I think I traced it back to one guy in England in the 1200s or something.
When I zoomed out on the site and took a look at the tree I was amazed at all the people. Someone married someone who had so-and-so. That happened over and over until there were my grandparents, my parents, and then, me.
I was taken aback with knowing someone in Ireland fell in love and had children and had no idea I would be on the planet a couple of hundreds of years later. They had no idea that their genes would one day show up in middle America with blue eyes and curly hair. I wonder if they even thought about their actions and beliefs making ripples through history.
Years ago my husband and I attended a family ministry event. Our speaker had us try to envision eight generations from now. He was using a biblical text of a genealogy that outlines just that: eight generations.
You can’t go too deep in the Bible without running into a list of whose dad is whose before you get the idea that generations matter to God. Genesis 5 is your first stop. There you will see nine generations between Adam and Noah. That’s a lot of time and a whole lot of people; however, it’s important we value the list. The list tells a story. We don’t have the privilege of knowing the stories beyond how old these people were when they died, but we have the full counsel of the Word to see that one generation most certainly can influence the next.
My grandparents did this for me and are influencing my children. As faithful members of the church, my grandparents loved missionaries. I can remember being at their house when missionaries were there telling their stories. My parents housed missionaries as well. We sat around the table and talked and then watched their slides on Sunday. We were, and are, a family of generational missionary mobilizers. What they loved to do fifty years ago is affecting my children today. My children are the beneficiaries of godly great-grandparents, even with the 100-year gap.
What we do with our time, where we spend our energy, what we choose to make big deals about, how we handle discipline, how often we hug and give praise, and how we fulfill our callings will influence many, many generations.
Imagine your family tree just eight generations away. What characteristics, passions, and traits of yourself do you want to see still in your tree? Will you take some time to really think about how your family influenced you (good or bad) and consider what direction you want your branches to grow?
Our great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren might just thank us.