by Hannah Nelson, Kids Minister
We’ve made it a tradition in our house to watch “family movies” every time one of our kids has a birthday. We all pile on the couch together and watch highlights of that particular child, from newborn baby, to crawling and walking, to first birthday party and beyond. It’s one of the traditions that we all look forward to as we laugh and say, “Oh I remember that!” So many family movie viewings have happened in our house that our kids are convinced they actually have memories of being one, two, or three years old. Our children have seen and heard the stories so many times that they are impressed in their minds and are a part of their story now.
We learn through stories. Jesus taught in parables, the Old Testament is filled with stories of God’s people, children learn nursery rhymes, families read bedtime stories, we watch movies (live action stories), we share events in our lives with others in the form of stories. Stories are powerful and engaging, they capture our attention and they stick in our memories. All through the Old Testament we read over and over about the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” It’s not because the authors couldn’t think of anything else to say. It’s because that statement is part of the story of God’s people and it’s important to hear more than once. Even Jesus and Paul in the New Testament would refer to Old Testament Scripture and stories in their teachings. Being reminded of what God has done helps in understanding what He is doing now and gives us hope for what He will do in the future.
Now, there were times in the Bible when those stories of God’s victories did not get passed on to the next generation. The story of Israel goes from highs to lows, from obeying God to disobeying God, from being free to being oppressed. This cycle would recur when the current generation had forgotten about God and how He had led them.
“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10 (NLT)
When the stories don’t get shared, the memories don’t live on. How likely were the young Israelites to follow the Lord when the generation before them didn’t share the story of God? They had little to no memory of God’s victories and faithfulness. The new generation of Israelites were left with a “gap” in their history of faith. They had to learn on their own what in meant to love and obey the Lord.
What stories of faith have your children heard from you? Do you tell them over and over how Jesus died to forgive their sins, or that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ, or that Moses led the nation of Israel out of Egypt? And what about YOUR story of faith? Do your children know how God has worked in your life, or how you came to love Jesus? How are you showing your kids that God is faithful? It’s not just a good idea to pass on these stories and truths on to our children, it’s in the Bible!
“O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past – stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them – even the children not yet born – and they in turn will teach their own children.” Psalm 78:1-6 (NLT)
We hold the responsibility of passing down the stories of faith to our children so that they can share them with their children. I, as a parent, perpetuate the legacy handed down to me from my parents and grandparents. I choose which stories to share, which memories to savor, which traditions to uphold. I have to be purposeful to keep “God stories” in the center of my family. We are the storytellers of faith to the next generation. Don’t miss out on the chance to make your “God stories” a part of your children’s memories. Share with them your kids when you “are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” (Deut. 6:7 NLT)