When I was young, I kept a box in my room of “keepsakes”, little treasures that I had collected over the years. Souvenirs I got on family vacations, photographs that reminded me of a special memory, drawings from little kids that I watched when I first started babysitting. None of the items in that box had any real value – but still I kept them. I kept them because I loved the people and things they reminded me of. I didn’t want to get rid of them because they were kept from my past, however childish they might have seemed.
As we mature, we still find keepsakes to be special, though they do usually start to look a little different from when we were young. When we’re older, they tend to have more of a “heritage” feel to them. A heritage is defined as “something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition; something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth”. Some families have Bibles that have been handed down, or jewelry that was passed from a grandmother, to her daughter, and on to her granddaughter. As I write, I can see two paintings hanging on my wall. I love them; they are special to me, and I have no plans to give them away, even if out of the blue someone offered to buy them from me. Why? Because my grandmother painted them, and they remind me of her – they are my “keepsake” of her. When she’s gone, I know that they will be even more special to me. Keepsakes help us “keep” our memories and remember things that are important to us; they remind us of our heritage and where we come from.
As I’ve thought about keepsakes and why we as people love to keep them, the word heritage continued to strike me. Psalm 127:3 states that “children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward”. We know that our children are a gift from the Lord; the wonder of their birth and the love that overwhelms us proves that easily enough. But a heritage has to do with handing down something from the past, a tradition. So, what does it mean that our children are a heritage from the Lord? They are more than a gift or reward; they are a keepsake from God, entrusted to us, and it is our job to pass the heritage of faith on down to them. When we look at our children, we are looking at our keepsake, our heritage, from God, and we must keep it, holding on to it with all our might!
If we forget to pass the heritage of faith to our children, we forget God and the charge He has given parents. Our children will grow up without their heritage, and they will have no keepsake to pass on to their own children, and their children’s children. When we forget our children, we are forgetting the generations that are yet to come, for our faithfulness in training the heritage given to us will directly impact the heritage given to our children. We must not lose them.