In our mid-week Bible study, we have been going through the book of Hebrews. During our discussion of chapter 11, one of the members pointed out the generational faithfulness of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This friend of mine is the father of a newborn, and he wants to help his daughter grow up to know and serve the Lord. That's my goal for my kids, too.
I was blessed to grow up in a home with parents who had a desire to follow Jesus and demonstrated that by the way they lived. I also had grandparents who illustrated spiritual commitment, and I knew or heard about other examples of faithfulness going back several generations on both sides. Not everyone has such a heritage, and I am thankful for mine.
Several passages in the Bible talk about "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." God himself used this description when talking to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:15). Jesus refers to this incident when refuting the Sadducees for disbelieving in the resurrection (Matthew 22:32). Peter uses the expression when speaking to a crowd in the temple, showing how the same God of their forefathers had sent Jesus (Acts 3:13).
So Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob served the same God. They had a multi-generational spiritual connection. But each of those men had to make a personal decision to follow God. Each of those men had a son who followed in his footsteps, but each of those men also had a son (or sons) who took a different path.
Even after I made a personal decision to follow Jesus, I faced the temptation of wanting to ride the spiritual coattails of my parents rather than continuing to grow up myself. My parents had believing parents, but my parents choose to do some things differently in our home. In the same way, my parents gave me a great start on my spiritual journey. But they also encouraged me to think about things for myself. So the way I train my children may look somewhat different from my upbringing.
But the broad outlines are the same. The target is the same. I am thankful for the training I have received and the heritage I know. That motivates me to persevere in this journey of faith. I recognize my personal responsibility to live well, and I want to help my children see their personal responsibility, too. However, I also want us to appreciate the connection with have with others who have been on this road longer than we have.
Deciding to walk by faith puts us in great company. All of the people listed in Hebrews 11 and all the other saints throughout history are a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on. We can't depend solely on the faith of others to get us through, but we should lean on and learn from others when our faith is weak.