Thursday, July 6, 2017

Eternal Inheritance

First Published March 4, 2015

I signed away my inheritance last week. It wasn’t an easy decision and it wasn’t my first choice, but after months of legal tug-of-war, John and I felt it was best. This started when my brother accused us of mismanagement of my mother’s estate and threatened to file a criminal lawsuit, so we hired an attorney to defend ourselves. She professed to be Christian—the daughter of missionaries. We felt like we were in good hands and that with God on our side, a Christian attorney, and the American legal system, we were sure to be exonerated. Many well-meaning friends told me with conviction that nobody can steal an inheritance from the person clearly named in someone’s will—not in Texas anyway. I might have agreed six months ago, but I now stand corrected. 

Because my brother was already quite wealthy, he was able to hire a more expensive attorney who effectively bullied ours with the threat of investigation. I considered allowing them to take us to court, knowing that there was no criminal activity to discover, but our lawyer reminded us that we were out of money and would be representing ourselves. We realized the only reason to go to court would be to prove our innocence and possibly win back my half of the estate. We didn’t feel either was a good enough reason to drag our family through any more unnecessary turmoil. 

Scriptures like I Corinthians 6: 1-8 also helped guide our decision:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

One day after we resolved to put it behind us, a friend sent the name of a lawyer he had told about our situation, who agreed to take our case pro bono. He has tried cases before the supreme court and is said to be one of the best in the state. I admit it was tempting, but not as tempting as the option to be done with this whole scenario once and for all, so I signed the papers giving my portion of the inheritance to my brother—minus possibly enough to restore our emergency fund.

We are choosing to listen to God’s Word, to suffer wrong and be defrauded, because as disappointing as my brother and the legal system have been to us, I know God will not disappoint. Lamentations 3:58 says, “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.” We realize we don’t need the law on our side as much as we need Jesus.

Thank you for your concern and many prayers throughout this ordeal. Please, don’t feel sorry for us or give in to the temptation to believe God didn’t show up. We were never promised health, wealth, or even happiness in this life. We hope for what is to come and ultimately are thankful to be included in the trials that make us more like our Savior. 

Sure, I wanted justice regarding this matter, but I do not want justice in God’s court. No, I want grace—lavish and unmerited. And so I make it my goal to listen first and foremost to the counsel I get from the Bible and am willing to be called a criminal in this life and give up my earthly inheritance if it means being judged righteous and receiving an inheritance in the life to come.

This photo of our family with both grandmothers was taken after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The hope of this heavenly reunion in the presence of Jesus is worth more money than the world can hold.

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