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.
But here’s the thing: my “keepsake” box sat in my closet, only ever opened when I randomly happened to think about opening it up. My “keepsake” paintings from my grandmother, beautiful as they are, simply hang on the wall. Our keepsake from God, our children, must not be treated this way. We cannot make training our children in the heritage of faith something that randomly happens when we think about it here and there, like opening a keepsake box only when it happens to cross our mind. We must be intentional, making that training a daily event in our homes. Our children also need more than just seeing the faith of their parents, like my grandmother’s paintings hanging on the wall. Oh, they can be seen. But my children won’t know the heritage behind them if I don’t speak of it. We can’t treat our faith like a painting on the wall, thinking that just because the kids see it, they’ll figure it out and treasure it as much as we do. Our heritage of faith must also be spoken of to our children! That training can start now, today! We have been given such a blessing in our children, a keepsake to be sure! Let them know the rich and beautiful heritage that is theirs in Christ Jesus. Make heritage training your top priority as a parent. If children are a heritage from the Lord, like a keepsake passed down for generations in a family, let it not be said that the heritage ended on our watch or that we failed to keep what was entrusted to us! Wrap your keepsake children daily in prayer, and let the conversations you have with them about their heritage in Christ be filled with the joy of knowing that such a heritage is theirs, and ours…for keeps!
A great place to start making this training a daily priority is the storybook “The Way I Should Go”, for children ages 4-8. Take your children on a fun journey as they, and the kids in the stories, discover the character traits of Obedience, Patience, Honesty, Gratefulness, Responsibility, Respectfulness, Self-Control, Initiative, Diligence, Kindness, Contentment, and Deference. Also, begin to hide the Word of God in your child’s heart with “The Way I Should Go Memory Work and Activity Guide”.