“So much wasted time…” David Cassidy’s last words
David Cassidy, known primarily for his role in the 1970s musical-sitcom, The Partridge Family, died on November 21st. He was 67. Born into a show business family, he rocketed to stardom on The Partridge Family. As eldest son “Keith Partridge,” he became a global heartthrob as the face – and voice – of the Partridge Family’s biggest hit, “I Think I Love You.”
After the show ended in 1974, he devoted himself to recording and songwriting, but struggled to match the success of his early-20s. Late in life, he struggled with numerous personal problems. He was charged with driving under the influence on three separate occasions. His third wife, Sue Shifrin, filed for divorce in February of 2014 after 23 years of marriage. In 2015, he filed for bankruptcy, listing assets and debts of up to $10 million. That September, he was cited for leaving the scene of an accident.
David Cassidy is survived by two children, musician Beau Cassidy and actress Katie Cassidy, with whom he acknowledged having a distant relationship. “I wasn't her father. I was her biological father but I didn't raise her,” he told an interviewer earlier this year. “She has a completely different life.” Yet, David Cassidy himself was estranged from his father, actor Jack Cassidy. He often expressed regret about Jack being mostly absent from his life after David’s parents split up when he was 5. He stayed with his mother and by the early 1960s had moved to Los Angeles.
As I read articles about his death, I felt very sad. What saddened me the most was that though David Cassidy personally knew the pain of being estranged from his father, he repeated that terrible wounding in the lives of his own children. They needlessly became victims because of his failure to change generational family patterns from which he himself had so terribly suffered. Sadly, it’s a common pattern and one we often find in the Bible.
If we do not determine to be proactive, we too will face the consequences of generational sin. Sin always has consequences. Many of us are familiar with the law of the harvest that we find in Galatians 6:7-8a, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption…” You reap what you sow. There’s no escape from this law. If you sow carrots, you get carrots. If you sow strawberries, you get strawberries. If you sow good things in your life, you reap good things. If you sow sin in your life, you reap the consequences of that sin.
David Cassidy passed down family sin generationally. It’s a common cycle – sin patterns are passed down from parents to children and then to their children. For example, Abraham passed down the sin of lying to Isaac, who passed it on to his deceiving son Jacob. A study of Israel’s kings show how one king after another was influenced by his father’s sin. Let me share just one example. “Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel…and he reigned two years over Israel. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother…He provoked the Lord…to anger in every way that his father had done” (1 Kings 22:51-53).
We see this law at work within our own families and in society around us. Prejudice is passed down. Alcoholism runs in families. Children of divorced parents are more prone to divorce. This law of the generational harvest should sober us when we ponder the implications for our children and grandchildren.
When I counsel a young couple in our pre-marital sessions, I warn them that unless they are biblically pro-active, their marriage and parenting will repeat the patterns of their parents. Recently, I saw a picture of a family gathering. The grandfather had a reputation for being surly and negative. It was very disheartening to see that same spirit reflected in the countenances of his grandchildren. Yet, the opposite is often true. If parents are kind and thoughtful, the adult children will often be kind and thoughtful.
Any pastor who has been in the ministry for at least a generation can fairly accurately predict the spiritual aptitude of the next generation. If the parents were casual about spiritual things, haphazard about church attendance or the application of spiritual truth, their adult children will often only increase in those sad patterns. Many times they completely drop out of church and have little or no fruits of Christlikeness in their lives.
So what can we do? Be honest with ourselves, God and our children. The wrong tendency is to rationalize and justify ourselves. The solution is to instead confess our sin and humble ourselves. Then, we need to ask the Lord to reveal secret sins to us and sinful patterns. After we confess them and ask for God’s grace, we must be honest with our adult children and take responsibility for our failures. I appreciate that David Cassidy was honest and admitted that he blew it. Unfortunately, he waited until nearly the end of his life to do it.
Finally, we need to faithfully study God’s Word and look for spiritually healthy patterns. As we see them, we must cry out to God for grace and the Spirit’s power to replace our sinful patterns with the successful, godly ones that we see in Scripture.
As I look back on my countless failures as a husband and father, the truth of Proverbs 18:13 encourages me, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” We all blow it but God loves to pour out His mercy and grace on us. But someone needs to stop and break the evil pattern. Will it be you?
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