This morning’s reading was Judges chapter 2:
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress. (Judges 2:10-15)
What this passage reveals is that it only takes a generation for knowledge of the goodness of God to vanish. After the generation that had witnessed the miracles of God in the desert had died, the following generations went astray. God knows that we are capable of this type of forgetfulness – even failing to pass on our knowledge of God to our children. That’s why, back in Deuteronomy 6 he gave this command:
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
The passage in Judges shows the sad consequence of us failing to tell the story.
From time to time in churches we have people share a testimony. Many times this testimony is about how they first became a Christian, and for sure, that is a relevant and powerful story. But this could have happened decades ago. I, for one, want to know what difference God has made in their life recently. To paraphrase Janet Jackson, I want to know what God has done for them lately.
It is when our children and our peers hear our ongoing stories of how God continues to intersect our life that the evidence of his reality becomes more compelling. And though we need to be careful how we share that (there may be restrictions on speaking about religious matters in your workplace for example), there must surely be a place where this story can be told.
As a parent, I’m still thinking through how best to do this with my children. I’m planning on choosing one “Jesus story” per week, and finding an evening where one of the children can retell the story, and we can discuss as a family what it means, and what the applications are.
What about you? If you are a parent, what do you do with your children to ensure that they get to know not just the Bible stories, but what God is doing in your life right now?
And for all of us, are we thinking, journaling, remembering what God has done for us (or is doing in us) lately?