How do you want to be remembered by your children’s children? And their children? And what do you want them to know about your faith?
You may have heard me say that my pop is teaching me more from the grave than he did in life. Maybe I didn’t fully appreciate him when he was here. But now that he’s gone, I cherish every memory he made and every story he told.
Some day I’m hoping to sit down with some of the saints back in my home town, people who knew my parents very well as adults. My list of questions is getting longer and longer. I’d ask, What would my parents tell me now? That type of thing. What were they feeling during this stage of life that I’m in now, at fifty-some years of age? What were their feelings as far as economics during that time? What was the social climate like? How did they respond to that as adults?
I want to know, and I want my kids to know. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but those stories are so rich to me. They’re our family’s heritage, and I want to make sure we place high value on them.
Sometimes my children will ask me questions—about my pop, what was he like—and I’ll talk as long as they’ll listen. And sometimes they’re even fascinated by stories of my own youth.
I think we’ve lost, to a degree, the love for storytelling, the oral tradition. It may be hard for us to compete with the flash and the style that distract children today, but we can’t give up. We need to restore some of what was lost, and keep telling our stories.
Fathers, get your stories together—even the simple ones. If it helps, buy one of those journal books for dads, with specific questions to write about. Or just talk into a tape recorder. Or sit in front of a video camera. If you want your life and what you stand for to make a difference in the lives of your descendents, then be proactive about capturing your life story. Give your children and their children that gift. Like with me, they may not think it’s that valuable now—but I’m certain that some day they will.
And then, even more important, tell God’s stories. Share the parables, and parables of your own life. One of my favorite Psalms is number 78. It reads:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
We will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power and the wonders He has done.
He … established the law in Israel,
Which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.
What a picture for how to pass a living faith on to our children! Amen? As it says, we should open our mouths in parables—stories that communicate a powerful lesson. We should tell our children things from of old—what our fathers have told us. Whatever blessings we have received from our fathers, we must pass those along to our children. We must not hide the great lessons from them.
I know you’re not hiding these lessons intentionally, Dad. But are you proactive about telling the next generation about praiseworthy deeds and wonders of the Lord?
What stories can you tell about God’s intervention in your life? Prayers that were answered. Moments of unexpected provision. Small miracles that opened your eyes to His love. Experiences that demonstrated his majesty and power.
Have you told your children and grandchildren? Do you see God working in your church, your small group, or your neighborhood? Point those things out to your kids! Let them experience God’s power through you.
And then, as it says, give them a vision for their own future—how someday they will tell these or similar stories to their own children. They will tell of God’s wonders and pass on that legacy of faith.