Ever get the feeling God was trying to tell you something? Recently I’ve had a number of encounters with a similar theme … I’ve read excerpts from books, seen television programs, and listened to sermons with a common message: I need to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk, not only for me, but for generations that will come after me.
Beth Moore, in her article entitled “Change Your Family Tree”  says, “Between every unfaithful generation and faithful generation is one person determined to change. You could be that link. Perhaps no one in your family was overtly sinful, but they were simply uninvolved in Christ’s kingdom. Maybe you would like to be a link that takes your family line from an unfulfilling life of religion to a passionate life of relationship with Christ.”
Breaking the generational chains isn’t an easy task. If we were raised around selfishness, anger, self-indulgence, or other bad habits, it’s often the first thing we instinctively revert to. Our lineage may have established such a rut, that it’s all we really know. We’ve settled into it, hung up pictures, and decided to call it home. Climbing out is hard, because we will have nothing familiar to fall back on when we encounter difficulties. But … if we want our future generations to live outside the rut, it will not happen until one person in our family line chooses to pack up and climb out. To break the chain once and for all.
I’m reminded of a story from Gilda Radner’s book entitled It’s Always Something. She told about growing up and having a family pet that was going to have puppies. Somehow the dog got too close to the lawn mower and lost her back legs. They took her into the vet and said, “What are we to do? Must we put her to sleep? After all, she’s going to have these puppies.” The vet explained to them that if they didn’t maintain the life of the mother, then the puppies would die as well. He offered an alternative: “We can sew her up and she will reteach herself to walk on two legs eventually.” And sure enough she did. She didn’t even waste any time with it. She learned to drag herself by her front paws and then hop forward with the back part of her body. Didn’t seem ashamed of it; that’s just how she walked. Then she had the puppies—they were all healthy.
The last line of it said this, “And when the puppies learned to walk, they all walked just like her.”
The pastor of my former church spoke of a study that began over two hundred years ago. It followed the family line of two men to see what similarities and difference would exist within the family. One man was a pastor, the other a criminal. What was most striking about the results was the predictability of the men’s lineage. In the pastor’s family tree, there were educated men and women, pastors, even members of the U.S. Congress. In the criminal’s lineage there were, with rare exception, more vagrants, criminals, and underachievers. It would seem that the example we set for future generations is more far-reaching than we could possibly imagine.
Does this mean that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors, and pass down our less-than-desirable qualities to future generations? No. If anything, this study says to me that rising out of the rut is hard. So hard in fact, that few people attempt it. But it can be done. And the rewards are infinitely far reaching.
Enter Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute who lived near the wall of Jericho. She was a Canaanite, known for sinful living. But when the God’s people came to spy out the land, she made a crucial decision to do the right thing. She hid them. As a result of her decision to turn from her life of sin, the only life she’d ever known, she and her descendants were redeemed. And what a redemption! Read the lineage of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:5 and you’ll see he is a direct descendant of Rahab. Talk about changing the fate of future generations!
What strikes me is that Rahab not only stopped doing what was wrong, she also started doing what was right. How can I apply that to my own life? Well for starters, I must stop procrastinating, but I also need to start being proactive. To stop constantly seeking approval for myself, but to also start giving approval away to others! To stop with the control-freakishness but also to start submitting gulp I could go on listing my flaws, but you get the idea.
Climbing out of my rut requires a complete 180. The opposite of what is familiar must be my new norm. Talk about a departure from my comfort zone. It makes me squirm in my chair just thinking about it. Nevertheless, Rahab shows us that with the Lord’s help it can be done, lest our great-great-great-great-great grandchildren are found living within the confines of the rut we chose to make our home. It begins with a decision to walk the walk. But it cannot be accomplished without the Lord’s help. A decision for change is a decision to submit control and trust that following God’s Word will result in a life beyond anything I could ever dare to hope or imagine. Way better than a rut.