Passing It On and Paying It Forward

By April 19, 2011 faith No Comments

Whispers Beyond the Magnolia, 2011

A theme has been echoing about me in the past month or so. All the repetition has my attention!

The message is this: We are a sum total of our past generations—both for good and for ill.

It all started with a book club selection, Havah by Tosca Lee. It’s a poetically written, fictionalized account of what life may have been like in Eden’s perfection and outside of Eden after the Fall. With a heavy heart I read of all that Havah (Eve) had to witness as generation after generation lived with the increasing devastation of the Fall.

Then a friend shared with me the message she planned to give at an upcoming women’s event. She shared both the pain and the redemption of patterns passed from generation to generation within her family.

And yesterday I read this post by Amanda Jones. (Be sure to pop over there to read it—and then come on back!) She shares of God’s blessing passed from generation to generation within her family despite some painful circumstances that could have derailed the entire family line.

In each of these examples, I am reminded of our interconnection. We are not islands unto ourselves. Every decision I make will be sown into the fabric of my life, bearing either good fruit or bad. The fruit of my life can nurture life in others . . . or death.

This line from the song “Generations” by Sara Groves says it well:

“Remind me of this with every decision. Generations will reap what I sow. I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know.”

If blessings and curses were more tangible, it would be easier to know what we were passing on or paying forward. But blessings and curses can be tricky to discern. They can be disguised in their seedling state and only reveal their true nature years down the road.

Alas, both blessings and curses are passed along. Blessings are obvious—we champion them and proclaim our gratitude for them. But curses? Curses we tuck away in hurt or anger or shame. Curses come forth in attitudes, expectations, behavioral strongholds, relational patterns, and the like. They sprout up in our lives, then spread like choking, destructive weeds into future generations.

Curses don’t have the final say though.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13–14).

Jesus neutralizes the power of sin’s curse so that we might enjoy the blessing that was promised to Abraham many, many, many generations ago.

By God’s grace, may I be like Abraham: May my life pass on blessings to those I will never know.

Credits: Photograph by Erin Straza, 2011

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