Join me, for a brief moment, if you will, in the past.

The year is 2013, and after a week of praying and hoping and fearing and waiting, my Dad has breathed his last breaths this side of eternity. 

There are a thousand words for that moment, but let’s focus on this one for now: unexpected.

He and my mother divorced more than a decade earlier, so my brother, sister and I have the responsibility of settling his affairs. Suddenly everything that belonged to our father was ours — the good and the bad.

Dad’s alma mater, about which he was fiercely passionate, was East Carolina University — home of the Pirates — and in true Pirate fashion, he left us a treasure hunt. 

If there was a map, we still don’t know where he buried it.

With my siblings living in other parts of the country, the title “Administratrix” fell into my lap, and while that’s a really fun word to say, turns out it’s rather a hard job to take on in the best of circumstances. 

My Dad left behind financial obligations which had to be settled. He also left behind properties, which we inherited. The crazy thing was, we didn’t know what he owned or what he owed. We knew very little of the terms of many of his business-done-with-a-handshake agreements.

It’s a hard place to be in — knowing that there’s so much you don’t know, and realizing you have to learn what you don’t know, in order to then be able to go figure out what to do about it.

Now imagine for a moment, that I took the Death Certificate which confirmed that my Dad had passed away, and just carried it around with me. I didn’t go about finding out if there were debts to be paid. I didn’t go through the process of closing his estate, selling the business over here, that piece of land over there. I didn’t even go and transfer his property into the names of my brother and sister and me. 

If we didn’t walk through the process of settling his estate, we would not have received the benefits that were due us — we would not have inherited what we were supposed to receive, right? 

I’d like to posit an idea to you today that I’m hoping to unpack more thoroughly over the next several weeks.

Sometimes, as Christians, we are walking around with a death certificate, but we aren’t going through the process to truly receive the inheritance that is rightfully ours. 

Consider these thoughts from Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise, but God gave it to Abraham by promise. {Gal. 3:18} 

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. {3:26,29}

Okay — so we are heirs to something because of Christ, and therefore grafted into Abraham’s family tree.

Let’s zoom out and get “Big Picture” here for a moment. Like Shakespeare, perhaps, we’ll see this as a Five Act Play.

Act One:(Exposition) God creates the world, and He makes people. It would be appropriate to say He made children — unlike the rest of Creation, He made us in His image. He gives His children a garden to tend and work to do — they receive an inheritance from their Father. But there’s one thing every story that is worth a sheet of paper to write it on has: a problem. The snake in the garden deceives the children out of their inheritance. He convinces them they need to do something to be like God — but they forget that they already are. They were created to care for the Earth, to have dominion over it, to rule it and cultivate it and make it wonderful. But they’re tricking into choosing to define goodness in their own terms — apart from God. A downward spiral of shame and blame begins, that I’m sure you’re familiar with and in the end, they lose their inheritance.

Act Two:(Rising Action) God starts with Abraham. He makes a covenant with Abraham and promises to bless him. He has a plan to bless the whole world again, to bring the whole world back into the inheritance He intended for them in the beginning. Out of Abraham, He’ll make a nation that will be the beginning of a blessing to ALL the nations. The story is going somewhere — but the people keep failing. How is God possibly going to redeem and restore His fallen creation? 

Act Three: (Climax) Jesus. I mean, I could really just write that one Name and it would be enough — but let’s elaborate. Hebrews 9:15 explains, “And for this reason He [He being Jesus] is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” In this unexpected move no one saw coming, God sends His Son — the only rightful heir to everything (because it’s all His Dad’s, remember?) — and Jesus sacrifices Himself to purchase our freedom. We sold ourselves to the Pawn Shop of sin, and Jesus brought Himself to the counter — He paid what we owed, and we are redeemed.

Act Four: (Falling Action) This is the act we are in, right now. Present Day. In many ways it’s already resolved, but in other ways, not yet. We already have an inheritance. Paul explained to the Ephesians, “In Him [that’s Jesus, again!] also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” {Eph. 1:11,13-14} We are here. We have the death certificate — we know Jesus gave His life to redeem us. We are already the children of God, but we are still in a broken world. Let’s hold that thought.

Act Five: (Resolution) The return of the King. The moment when this world fades away, and somehow all things are made new. New Heaven. New Earth. We fully walk in our inheritance in every way. C.S. Lewis best described this part of the story at the end of The Last Battle, “Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Can you find yourself in the story? Did you see it? We’re in Act Four. Now, if my Dad hadn’t passed away, everything that belonged to him would still be his. And he’d be faithfully reading everything I write, encouraging me to keep at it, and feeding his grandkids peaches and peanut butter and jelly for dinner. 

But since he passed away, what was his passed on to his children. And although the years of simultaneously grieving the unexpected loss of my Dad, combined with the messy, hard challenges navigating settling his estate were pretty painful, still we sit on the other side of our loss, blessed by what he left behind for us. 

So these are the questions I’d like to unpack over the next few weeks: in what ways are we walking around with a Death Certificate, but not really receiving the inheritance Christ bought for us at the cross? While we look toward Act Five, when Jesus returns and renews all things, what is our inheritance now, in this already/not yet place?

When I was in the throes of settling my Dad’s estate and beginning to understand an earthly inheritance, I found so many whispers and echoes of the heavenly inheritance that is a gift to all believers. I hope you’ll join me to consider these things in detail. And I have a beautiful secret to whisper to you for now: you have a good inheritance.


I don’t want you to miss the next post in the Inheritance Series!
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