“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. . . . Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” —Deuteronomy 6:5-7, 12 (NIV)
Some of my earliest and most vivid memories of learning about God are of my paternal grandmother telling me about her hardships in Russia and the heavenly home she was waiting for. While she strummed her guitar, teaching me the lyrics to “Gott Ist die Liebe,” or as I sat on her bed, combing her long, greying hair, which she would then twist into a tiny bun, she described heaven as if she had been there.
The stories my grandparents and parents shared with me over the years ingrained in me an awareness of God’s protection and leading, beginning with our Anabaptist forebears fleeing Europe to live in Russia and eventually moving to a country where we can enjoy peace and prosperity. Despite hunger, imprisonment, war, family separation, and the loss of loved ones, our grandparents continued to trust in God even when communism banned all manner of religious practice. Their faith, and God’s provision through it all, is a story to share, sometimes even through a simple thing such as preparing our “strange” ethnic foods. If Borscht and Zwieback give me an excuse to tell my grandchildren of our past, then they are good things. As grandparents, especially, we have a legacy of time and experience to draw on for wisdom and patience as we remember God’s patience with us.
No matter our background, we all have a story to tell. Not all of us have ancestors who worshiped God, but all of us have the chance to begin a new story of hope by accepting God’s invitation to become part of his family. By learning to love and forgive, lending a listening ear, and letting our family know that we are praying for them, we can pass on the greatest gift we have: a personal relationship with a loving God, expressed in daily life.
Pray: God, thank you for the legacy of faith that others have passed on to me. Help me to tell my story to younger generations.
Savor: Who told you stories of their relationship with God? How did their stories form you?
Come back on Thursday to get the recipe for Russian Tea Cookies. Plus, enter to win a copy of Bread for the Journey below (giveaway open to US and Canada).
Excerpt and recipe from Bread for the Journey: Meditations and Recipes to Nourish the Soul by the Mennonite Girls Can Cook! Used by permission. © 2016 Herald Press.
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