More Than Stories
So Josie and I had cause to reflect this week. We have been here one month. Here means two hundred miles north of the forty mile radius we have lived our entire lives (with the exception of Josie’s first four in Mexico). One month is thirty days of the the thirty years of marriage we celebrated this week. Thirty years is five grown children and four grand children later. I am tempted to mention the thrill of what lies ahead, but then I would have to include that in the body of this note. At the moment my heart wants to look back and in.
Josie and I are first generation believers. We were both saved while in college, ages uncommon for conversion. I think we were deeply attracted to each other for not much more than a common passion for God and a hope to glorify Him better as a couple than we could have remaining single. That passion was never more purposeful and apparent in us than when we became parents. We knew the devastations of a family heritage without Christ and felt deeply about not just the faith of our own children but for our grandchildren and generations to follow.
Moses is a good model for us when we consider the importance of faith across generations. In Deuteronomy we find the well known passage, Deut6.4-9, where we are admonished to “teach (the Word) diligently to your children ... talk of them when (we) sit ... when (we) walk ... when (we) lie down, and when (we) rise. Bind them ... on (our) hand, and they shall be as frontlets between (our) eyes. ... Write them on (our) doorposts ... and on (our) gates.” I think most good Christian parents have contemplated this admonition and taken to heart Moses’ passionate plea for leading our children to God. In this post, I would like to consider the man, Moses, and his time in life.
Deuteronomy is not necessarily a historical book nor a legal book, though it covers history and the law. It is more a deeply personal book of passionate exhortation from a man who looks back, considers the present and pleads for the future. First, let’s consider his present state. He is 120 years old, strong and has been informed that his flock is about to enter the Promised Land. He also has been told that he will not enter with them, that he will die before then and that he has about a month left. The majority of those following him are second generation believers. They heard about the triumph of their mighty God over Egypt and its impotent gods. They sat in the presence of their parents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and sojourners listening to the stories about the gnats, frogs, hail, darkness and weeping for sons. Stories.
So Moses pleads, “Teach this to your children.” Deuteronomy 6 follows one of the most magnificent sections of a description about our God. “Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.” (4:33-35).
So he concludes his month of three exhortations to the second generation by praying for them, but just before his prayer, he closes with this warning: “(this) is no empty word for you, but your very life.” (32:47)
God forbid that we would just tell the stories. On the next post, we will look at the past and the future.