Most of us are familiar with family trees that record previous generations. They are a valuable visual to keep track of names and relationships that we were not able to meet in life. There is a counseling tool called a genogram that not only records the names but also identifies as much about a person as one can find. The importance for both family tree records is to feel a personal part of a legacy and heritage.
My father-in-law’s story is a case in point. When he was a boy, his father abandoned the family, disappeared to another state and began another family. His mother remarried to care for her children, but shortly thereafter, she was murdered. Now homeless, the boy was passed around to relatives until he landed in the home of the sheriff of the town. As soon as he could, he joined the Army, where he spent many years. He was searching for a community, an identity, and a place to belong. My father-in-law never mentioned his father that I can recall.
The loss of a family tree impacted his three sons. There were no records of names, places, health issues, personality traits or physical resemblance for them. It was many years later that a man contacted the sons and told them their grandfather had been his father who admitted on his deathbed that he had a family elsewhere. Through research, he located the other family and found they had the same names. He had also researched the father’s family tree and shared that information. I remember Darrell’s deep emotion as he read it and kept saying, “I now have a heritage.”
What about our Kingdom family trees? This came to me as I listened to Tiffany Malone at WWWG Conference last weekend. The way we deal with life in our families will be what we leave behind. Her example was her home where her family members seem to be most comfortable when there is some form of chaos. My saying is: “Chaos on the outside breeds chaos on the inside.” Fruit of chaos is produced for the next generation.
I thought about Jesus talking about trees that bear good fruit or bad fruit (Luke 6:43). On our fruit-bearing-Kingdom-tree, the specific fruits have been identified for us as Fruit of the Spirit. If we represent Kingdom trees in our homes, we need to be striving daily to grow our own healthy fruit so our children can pick from those fruits. This past year has been a struggle on many levels for our homes. The way parents have chosen to grow through those struggles modeled a tree bearing good fruit or bad. Our children will pick the fruit that we provide.
Our Kingdom Family Tree has a different kind of look than the physical family tree described above. It may have names, places and traits. But most importantly, it will have fruit dangling from it called love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
These are the fruit of our heritage that give the next generation their community, identity, and resemblance. “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:20).