While working at the Norsk Hstfest recently, I enjoyed watching people take pleasure in the heritage of Scandinavian countries through foods, languages, clothing and stories. According to Webster, heritage is "something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth." The heritage we receive at birth can be varied depending on the connection our ancestors have with their cultural heritage. At a minimum our body type, hair, skin and eye color are part of our heritage. In some cases even our work ethic, lifestyle and attitudes are products of our heritage.
A concept closely related to heritage is inheritance. Webster defines inheritance as "property passing at the owner's death to the heir or those entitled to succeed; legacy." One kind of inheritance we might receive from a grandparent or other family member could be money or other kinds of material possessions. Those possessions can teach us something about the people who had them. I have inherited some embroidered pieces and pot holders that I know my grandmother made. I also have her wedding slip which she sewed with lots of tucks inset with her own handmade lace. It's in good condition considering that it is well more than 100 years old. It could be used today as a long white skirt by someone whose waistline measures less than 25 inches!
Another kind of inheritance I've received is insight into my grandmother's work ethic. The evenness of the embroidery, the regularity of the crocheting and the perfection with which she sewed, shows me a lot about how she approached her work. Stories I've been told and the pictures that I have tell me a lot about my grandparents' strength and tenacity.
There is yet another kind of inheritance that we seldom think about. That inheritance has to do with our eternity. The common phrase, "You can't take it with you" is true. The possessions we have on earth will not follow us when we die. Even if we grip gold bricks as our bodies stop functioning, the bricks will still be on earth in our decaying hands as our soul passes into eternity.
There is an inheritance, however, that we can take into eternity. We can be adopted as God's children forever. We cannot earn the right to become his children but God asks that we accept his terms of adoption to become his children. "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship" Galatians 4:4-5. If we accept this, then, at our death, we can receive an inheritance that will not decay.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade." I Peter 1:3-5.
Have we allowed him to adopt us as his children so that we are "qualified to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light?" Colossians 1:12.
Helen McCormack writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, are serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators.