Legacy of faith
By A. Ray Lee
This month many of the descendants of my grandfather A. W. Lee will gather to remember and celebrate our family heritage.
We will tell stories that start “remember when” and catch up with the latest news from those we have not seen since our last reunion. We will pause to remember those we have lost in the past year.
Granddad died 60 years ago, leaving few possessions to his children. Life had been difficult for him, and other than a small farm, he had few materials things to pass on.
But he left a legacy of faith much more valuable than any endowment of material wealth. I have often thought of that legacy, which has come through my parents to me.
His was a providential faith in the power of God to meet his needs. Life had not been easy for him, as he sought to provide for 11 children after the death of their mother at a young age.
From the coal mines near Birmingham to farms in Morgan County, he was forced to depend upon self-sufficiency coupled with a belief that God would supply the needs of those who worked with him.
All of his children are now gone, but his faith was effective in them as they grew into adulthood. They were all hard workers and invested their lives in the land that provided food and livelihood.
They did not openly testify of that faith. They lived by it.
There is a contrast between their understanding of faith and that which was practiced by my maternal ancestors. Although there were non-believers and skeptics in my mother’s family, a fundamental faith was passed down through them and eventually reached me.
Their faith had its basis in a strong unquestioning acceptance of the sovereignty of God. Their lives were molded by a belief that God is in control of everything, and their faith was not dampened by hardships or events that might cause others to question that proposition.
In genuine piety they accepted the tenets of an obsequious faith without examination. In all circumstances God would provide their needs.
There would always be food on the table. Hard and trying times, including poverty, sickness and death, might come upon them, but God would be at work in all things for their good.
He did not make mistakes.
What they could not understand, they accepted. Their earnest prayers were couched in terms of “Thy will be done.”
From both of my family trees sprang individuals who became leaders in their church and community, whether their faith was in the providence or sovereignty of God. Numbered among them were those who became doctors, nurses, ministers, teachers, leaders in industry, attorneys, successful farmers and a host of individuals who were and continue to be a boon to society.
As my faith developed, it became a blending of the providence and sovereignty of God. It has served me well in my journey through life.