This week, I had the opportunity to hold my newly born grandson. What a precious gift from God! As I held this tiny life in my hands, I began to wonder what his life will be like when he grows up. How will my relationship with him shape his future faith?
Soon my mind went even further – what will his children and grandchildren be like? Will they have a faith in Jesus? I realized in that moment that my vision of the future is often very short-sighted. My life, and even my faith, is driven by what I can see and what will happen during my lifetime. But God’s vision has always been far-reaching and generational.
Years ago, a missionary friend told me about a group of pastors in Italy. These pastors longed for a place of retreat from the rigors of life and a place where discipleship could happen. One day, a very excited pastor took my friend to see the group’s new purchase: a 50-acre property on top of a mountain. There was no road access, electricity, or source of water to the property – just land. The next generation would build the road, get electricity and water. Their collective hope was that, in 100 years or so, this place would be a Christian retreat center for many people to use. My friend was stunned by this vision of the future by the current generation of Italian pastors. In our world of immediate results and gratification, this type of visioning seems impossible.
Yet, this type of vision is what God often calls us to – a trust in what God is yet going to do. Indeed, God’s work is beyond our human comprehension, but we often fail to remember that God has always been a generational God with a plan. This was true of Abraham who never saw his family be “as numerous as the stars” as he was promised. It was true of Moses who never entered the Promised Land. It was also true of all the faithful saints who Paul says, “were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what was promised” (Hebrews 11:39, NIV). These stories show us a trust in God’s plan that was bigger than their own reality. Their commitment to God was unwavering, even though the final goal was not in sight.
God’s plan for future generations continues – despite God’s well-intentioned people sometimes unknowingly working against it. As I hold my grandson, I find myself in the category of being a well-intentioned PopPop who perhaps hopes to influence him towards my way of understanding faith. I want all the best things for my grandson – health, happiness, and a faith in Jesus, but need to be reminded that God’s plans are always good, and I need to trust them.
I also am a well-intentioned follower of Jesus who has the best intentions for the church. God has a plan for both my grandson and for the church – and it is a plan that is unimaginable. It is a plan for what the Italian mountain retreat will look when completed and for what the church will look like generations from now.
Perhaps my best gift to my grandson is for me to focus on being a faithful follower of Jesus who prays for him daily, models daily obedience to Christ, and commits to growing closer to Jesus.
That is both investing in the future generations of my family, as well as the future generations of the church.