TO CHEW ON: “When your son asks you, in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgements which the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand…’” Deuteronomy 6:20-21
Here Moses, in one of his last sermons to the Israelites, commanded them to tell their story to the next generation.
The psalmist Asaph gave a similar instruction:
“I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done….
That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments.” - Psalm 78: 2-4, 7
I am currently involved in a weekly Bible study of Judges. The book is an illustration of what happens when people don’t pass on their stories of faith to the next generation. Judges 2:10 summarizes it in one verse:
“When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for them” (emphasis added).
Why didn’t they know the Lord or His work? Because no one had bothered to tell them the stories—of Passover night and the escape from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the daily manna and the cloud that never left them by day or night, the sweetened water at Mara… etc.
Asaph recognized that lack and referred to it and the resulting up and down cycles (sin, conquest, repentance deliverance, and freedom) that Israel went through time and again in Judges (Psalm 78:56-64).
The example of Israel is a lesson to us. Faith for us too is one generation away from extinction. How do we keep that from happening? One way is to tell the stories of God at work in history and in our lives:
1. Read Bible stories to our children and grandchildren.
2. Encourage our elders (parents, grandparents) to tell their faith stories and record them in some way (written, audio, video).
3. Tell our own faith stories to our children, write them in journals or books to pass on and / or make audio and video recordings.
4. Read the stories of Christian pioneers and missionaries (biographies, autobiographies, memoirs) to our children and grandchildren.
In our fast-paced world:
- We may need to become intentional about this, making time and space to do it.
- We need to be aware of the best moments to share: with children—at bedtime, around the campfire, during car rides.
- We may need to take a writing course on the best way to write our story, or join a writers group that encourages us along those lines.
Whatever it takes, let’s not neglect to tell our stories, to pass on the stories of how God has brought our forefathers (and how God has brought us and is bringing us) out!
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for the way You have worked in my life. Help me to be faithful in passing on my story to the next generation. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.