It’s a moment I’ll always remember. The breeze was cool, the autumn leaves were changing and I was taking a walk to the park with my grandson the first time he ever put his tiny hand in mine. There was something so significant about walking hand-in-hand, realizing we were generations linked by love and family and faith.
In God’s design, a family is created when He joins two together to become one in marriage. As children are born and families grow, it’s as if a clock starts ticking: mere minutes turn to countless hours; hours turn into days; multiple days turn into decades of years; decades of years turn into a lifetime… a generation.
In dictionary terms, a generation is 30 years or so. In reality, it seems to happen in a flash: there’s preschool, middle school, minivans, driver’s training, dating, college, marriage, birthdays, anniversaries, and grandchildren. Then the cycle begins again. Our grandson just began preschool this month and it’s a gratifying experience to watch the wonderful family cycle repeat itself. There’s nothing we can do to slow it down. Our only hope is to make the most of every moment.
Life has a way of reminding us that family–family with a depth of “goodness” to it–is one of the greatest gifts of life. God has a way of reminding us, even as a trusting little one places his hand in ours, that the faith we treasure compels us to transfer and entrust it to the next generation…to create a faith legacy they can hold onto, especially when they can no longer hold our hands.
Family is the vehicle God chooses to use for the coupling of faith between generations: it’s a place of bonding and binding, where love brings us together and faith holds us together. Creating a faith legacy forges a spiritual baton, something to hold on to and pass forward, a tangible way to connect God’s past, present and future faithfulness.
Moses created a faith legacy as he spoke to Israel’s younger generation and reminded them how God had delivered their parents from slavery, parted the Red Sea, brought water from the rock, and manna from the skies. He wrote things down in order to pass it on, to invite each generation to remember and celebrate all God had done in the past as well as to inspire and instill hope for all God could do in the future (Dt. 1-3).
How can we learn from Moses? Take time to recall and write down the stories of God’s faithfulness in your life, in effect, to write a spiritual autobiography. Identify the highlights of your walk with God. List the experiences of God’s presence and activity in your life, and then share those stories with your children or grandchildren whenever you can. Help them to understand how God has been present to you and to your family through the years: loving you, calling you, protecting you, providing for you, and working in your life.
Our faith, and the story of how it has been formed, is the very core of who we are. In many ways it defines our life. As parents and grandparents, we have to decide that the best thing we will ever accomplish is to pass our faith to the next generation. After all, being linked by faith in Jesus Christ is the indispensible ingredient of a healthy family.
Dear Father, help us as parents to lovingly and authentically pass the faith that you have gifted to us to our children and to their children, that you might be honored in our family from generation to generation. Amen.