About 5 months ago my father in law passed away. He was 91 years of age and lived a long life; however, his passing was very sudden in an automobile accident. He did not have time to prepare himself or his family. In one way, this was a blessing in that he did not have to suffer over an extended period of time. In another way, this has been tough because there was no “good bye,” and Mary (and her brother and sister) did not have time to prepare.
He did have a will and a trust, both of which have been important to the family in following through on his desires. He did appoint a successor trustee who has responsibility and authority over his estate. This was a man who held on to his stuff…he had lots of it gathering for decades. As an only child, he had personal property that at one time belonged to his father, and that belonged to his father’s father, well into the Nineteenth Century. The things he had were valuable, and sentimental. They have special meaning to his children and my wife.
Much of my wife’s time has gone in the past months to working with her siblings and the trust officer. She has had two separate trips to California, one before our family wedding and one after. There has been a process of identifying and disbursing the estate. Despite her father’s passing, it feels like we are more connected to her side of the family than ever. There is a legacy of military service, political involvement, family heirlooms and artwork.
As per my father in law’s wishes, my wife has inherited sentimental things that connect us to his memory. We now have a grandfather clock in our living room. We have silverware for place settings. We have some family jewelry. We even have an old German Bible signed by Martin Luther! It all reminds me how valuable an inheritance can be, and that it comes simply as a result of being a family member. It is one of those things that is not earned or deserved. It is determined and decided upon by the father. All family members have an equal portion.
These themes remind me of the prominent place inheritance holds in the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote “In him [Jesus] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Eph 1:11, 13-4).” If you heard the gospel and have believed in Christ, you have obtained an inheritance! And you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the down payment that guarantees we will one day acquire possession of our inheritance.
The possessions from my Father in Law are meaningful, but they are only a shadow of the eternal inheritance my family has in Christ. If you are a Christian, become familiar with your inheritance. Get to know your Scriptures. Connect with the family of God. Be a witness to the gospel in your circle of relationships. Remember that God’s Spirit is your down payment, the deposit that guarantees your eventual and complete inheritance among the children of God. If you are not yet a Christian, don’t you want to participate in this inheritance also?