An Open Letter to My Family on Why I Write
Psalm 78:1-8 a Loose Paraphrase
(Scripture in Bold Italic)
Listen to me, hear what I am saying. I am going to tell you stories and will share things I have heard and know, things that my ancestors told me. I do not want to hide them from you â€“
Not that I would hide them from you intentionally.Â And yet neglecting to share the stories of what God has done in my life isnâ€™t much better than hiding them.Â The motivation is different – the result, the same: You wonâ€™t know unless we tell you. Donâ€™t fret – your Dad and I have no deep dark secrets to reveal. I do, however, want to share things I have heard and knownâ€”things my ancestors told me and things Iâ€™ve learned during my own years of walking by faith.
I have an intense desire to tell you, my children and the children you are having (who will have more children), the â€œglorious things God has done.â€Â
Much of my life has been â€œgloriousâ€ and the very existence of you and the people you have brought into our lives as grandparents is the most beautiful thing about you. I canâ€™t wait to tell you the â€œglorious thingâ€ God has done in my life, teaching me, changing me, counseling me throughout events and people he has brought into my life.
Youâ€™ll see in the pages ahead testimony of the â€œglorious things God has doneâ€ in my life, but Iâ€™ll be honest. Not everything feels glorious. I have had much loss in my life and none of it felt good then or feels good now. There are times I doubted Godâ€™s goodness toward me, yet even now, while I remember these dark times â€“ and I get a bit teary as I write this – I still believe God is good and he is present. Everything is for his glory; our job is cooperating with him, even in suffering.Â More than anything else I do in the remaining years I have, I want to spend this part of my life making sure you know of Godâ€™s work in my life through the years, especially in the years since my brother Gordon died and my world turned upside down.
He told my â€œfathersâ€
1st Generation: Harold L Longenecker and Esther Ella Hertzler
to teach their children
2nd Generation: Carol Jean, Gordon Eugene, Ronald Verle and Brenda Jane
so the next generation would know them
3rd Generation: Gregory Scott, Gerald Lee and Todd Eugene
and they would rise up and tell them to their children
4th Generation: Jacob Thomas, Cole Michael, Nathan James, Mason Carlos, Ella Grace, Emily Joy, Elliot James, Charles Alexander, Brooke Marie,Maylie Rose
And the reason they are to do this? – So they would set their hope in God and not forget his works. They would keep his commandments.
When God commanded this, their fathers before them had beenÂ a â€œstubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast,whose spirit was not faithful to God.â€Â As you already know, our family has been the opposite of stubborn and rebellious. To the contrary, on both sides, I come from a long line of faithful, godly people.
My Grandfather, Samuel Longenecker, became a prison chaplain at age 65 with the steadfast support of his wife, Annie. This was after a life of ministry within the church while being a salesman, a painter and a farmer. My maternal grandfather, Owen Hertzler, a faithful, godly Mennonite farmer, and his wife, Alta, supported my parents when they left the Mennonite Church and moved 1000 miles away to south Alabama as home missionaries. Â My Dad, Harold Longenecker, was a pastor and involved in church-related ministries all his life, with my Mother, Esther, whose primary role in ministry was to create a home and support my dad in his ministry. Galen and I have been involved in various leadership ministries. My greatest longing is that you know and follow God and continue to lead and leave a legacy of faith.
When I look at the above scenario, I see myself in that lineage and realize itâ€™s my turn to place my name in the top spot, Generation #1, so my story extends to my great-grandchildren.
I will not always be here to do the telling, so I write.
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