How a conscientious thief reminded me of the godly legacy I long to leave

Written by Minni Elkins
Published on February 09, 2021

A car thief in Oregon evidently has a soft spot for children. After he stole an unlocked car, he noticed a small child in the backseat. He promptly turned around, took the child back to the mother, lectured her about the dangers of leaving a child inside the car, then drove off in her car. 

Police later found the abandoned car, but not the driver. 

The mother had made a quick stop at a meat market, parking near the front door, and was just feet away when the suspect took her car, which was still running. 

“What she did was not a crime. She was within sight and sound of her child,” police said. “But she left the car running, so take that extra step—take the keys with you.” 

Pass down spiritual values

When I read this article, I could not help but think that someone in the suspect’s life had instilled a sense of right and wrong. Perhaps his childhood was marked with a lack of protection or a sense of security, and he did not want the same for the innocent child left in the car. 

Whatever the reason, I am thankful he was concerned about the child’s welfare. I hope that concern came from someone teaching him God’s truths in his past, as those teachings can also help direct his future. 

God had a heart for making sure future generations learned his truths. After he gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, he said, “Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29 ESV). 

He then gave the greatest commandment for the Israelites, what we know today as the Shema, to assist them in living a long and prosperous life: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV). Not only were they to embrace it with their hearts, but they were to teach it to their children through words, thoughts, and actions (vv. 6–9; Deuteronomy 11:18–21). 

When I became a grandmother, I had a greater understanding of passing important spiritual values on to future generations. I watched as our children taught their children the values they learned while growing up. If we do not share those values, our children and grandchildren will learn other values from the world. 

Pray powerful prayers

I have come to embrace Psalm 71:18 as a grandmother: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (ESV). 

Okay, maybe I haven’t embraced the gray hairs, but I love sharing life lessons with our grandchildren, both spiritual and relational. 

I had one of those moments recently with my five-year-old granddaughter who came to give us her latest school photo. I proudly added it to the frame with last year’s photo, then put the frame on the mantel with the other grandchildren’s photos. She asked me why I moved the photos to the mantel from the spot they had been in before. 

I pointed to the chair that she knew was my “quiet spot” and told her that when I talked with God, I looked up at the photos and asked him to protect and direct each one of those grandchildren. I explained that every day I looked at her photo and prayed for her. And that if she ever felt sad, she could think about the fact that her Mimi was praying for her. 

I remember a moment with my mother that had a tremendously calming effect on me. I had just gone through a traumatic experience, and when I shared it with her I can remember her telling me that she prayed every day for all her children. And I knew her faith. I knew she prayed powerful prayers. That was comforting. 

I want my children and grandchildren to know that assurance. 

Leave a worthwhile legacy

How much more assuring it should be to know that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Romans 8:34). 

The Israelites remembered God’s faithfulness, even in the face of their disobedience, and made sure their children and children’s children would remember his works: “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:4–7 ESV). 

I want my children and their children to know and remember God’s faithfulness. 

That’s the hope I want to share, to leave as a legacy.

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Minni Elkins

Minni Elkins has been working with Jim Denison since 1999, and with Denison Forum since its founding in 2009. She has a degree in journalism and worked many years with a daily newspaper as well as freelancing for newsletters. Her passion is making memories with her five grandchildren, who keep her on her toes.

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