As I sit in the early morning light today, I came across something King David wrote in his later years, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
“O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me; O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.”
-Psalm 71:17 & 18
In his old age, he’s thinking about what he’s going to pass on to the next generation. And it’s not his great wealth. It’s not his kingdom—it doesn’t even have to do with his political legacy. It’s not even his doctrine, or the laws of God (though it’s clear from reading David’s other psalms he adores God’s law). He wants to pass on all the miracles he’s seen God do. He wants the next generation to know how utterly wonderful God is. He wants to pass on the stories of what God has done for him.
I can’t help noticing how very, very important that is. It is imperative that we remember how absolutely incredible God is, and that we impress this on the next generation. It’s our job to tell the stories of what he’s done for us. To praise him by taking time to remember and tell what he’s healed, what he’s provided, where he’s made a way and parted seas for us. We need to give him glory. Our stories—the ones where God made a big scene, where he came through and answered prayer—they matter. They matter greatly.
Lately I’ve been asking God how in the world can I pass on my faith to my kids, because how can you fit this incredible, dynamic, surprising and very real God into a nice little Sunday School lesson? The answer: you don’t. He can’t be boxed in and he can’t be packaged up nicely. He can’t be “explained” in a 12 lesson curriculum. But here’s what I can do, I’ve decided. I can tell them stories. I can read them the stories of David, of Moses, of Esther, of God delivering his people and God freeing the slaves. And then I can tell her my stories. My sister-in-law told me once that our kids don’t have the luxury of a personal history with God, because they’re young. So they’ll have to lean on ours for awhile, and that’s ok. But if my kids are starting out their faith leaning on me, I want to give them all I have.
God knew that remembering was important. That’s why Israel’s calendar was full of festivals and feasts. They weren’t just random regulations, they were commemorations of when God had done miracles on their behalf, and it was crucial that they remembered. It was important for the next generation, absolutely, but it was also important for them. We need to remember when God did incredible things, because we need to be reminded of how God feels about us. We need to remember that his love is overflowing, extravagant, unstoppable, unwavering. There’s something about taking a time-out from everyday life to cook, prepare for a celebration, and do something extraordinary to REMEMBER.
During one of those very festivals, Passover, Jesus comes and gives us a new way of remembering: the bread and wine. REMEMBER your rescuer who came to save you. REMEMBER when God himself came among us as one of us, eating and drinking and sharing our most tangible human experience. Immanuel. The God-man who doesn’t run from our pain, doesn’t stand at a safe distance, but dangerously dives into our actual, real lives. His love could not be stopped.
Let’s REMEMBER well. Let’s tell our kids. Let’s stop our lives for a minute and hold PARTIES to celebrate what God’s done for us. He’s worthy of that, don’t you think? I know countless “Red Seas” have been parted for me:
That time he advocated for me and came through with a scholarship so I didn’t go into debt to get an education.
That time he provided unexpected money for a car after I totaled mine (completely my fault, by the way—apparently he’s not into rubbing our noses in our mistakes)
That time he healed my dad of cancer without radiation treatment.
That time he provided money out of the blue to to completely cover an unpaid bill.
That time he protected my mom when she was on her way to Lebanon during a Hezbollah attack.
That time he gave us shoes for our daughter when money was tight and I prayed for provision.
Those times my dad and my grandpa made it back safely from Afghanistan.
That time when we were swimming in medical debt and he wiped it away.
I could go on for pages and pages. Now, you may look at all that and think, “what a silly, childish viewpoint.” Yes, I almost hope you do. I hope that I am ever and always being accused of childlike faith. I hope I stubbornly give God the praise for things my society calls “coincidence,” because I know my God is at work on my behalf.
This is exactly why we must remember: Tears are streaming down my face as I write this because I know my Savior lives. I haven’t just been taught to believe, I’ve heard his still, small voice. I’ve seen the miracles of a God who is in love with me. I am certain my rescuer is here, walking with me every day. My God’s love for me could not be measured, and he would not be stopped by anything.
It’s not that I haven’t experienced disappointment, friends. I have heartbreak stories, too. I have unanswered questions. I’ve prayed prayers that never came to be. My aunt died of leukemia even though I wailed and cried, and prayed gut-wrenching, deep-belly prayers. My grandmother didn’t get to meet my daughter before she was taken from this earth, even though I asked for that. And those things hurt. But you know what? Just KNOWING him is better than a million answered questions. I can say that I count walking with him as greater than getting the “whys” all resolved. God is greater than I could’ve ever imagined when I started this crazy journey, and his love makes my life worth living.
I will say with Paul:
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?…No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed NOTHING in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Yes, Jesus revealed to us God’s great love, and we must never forget. We must intentionally make space for REMEMBRANCE. We must tell our kids of his great love. We must make sure that we stop our busy lives, and celebrate his miracles. We must make time, not only for the holy act of taking the bread and wine, but also the holy story-telling. We must remember his deliverance. We must join David in what he recognized in his wise old age. This is more important than anything else we will give the next generation: we must tell them of our God. We must make sure they know, deep in their bones, that our God is wonderful and full of unstoppable love for us.