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, the wonders he has done…
Which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children…
So the next generations 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.
Psalm 78: 2b-7 (NIV)
Every family has a story. The threads of your family’s story are woven together like a richly adorned tapestry, from one generation to the next. It is important to pass down your family history so that your children, grandchildren…and even the children yet to be…will know the roots from which they are born and the foundation upon which their lives are built.
More importantly, children need to hear their parents and grandparents discuss the evidence of God’s hand upon their lives. They need to hear the stories of the wondrous ways in which God has intervened for their family and the miracles that He has performed in their behalf. Hearing your discussion about God’s provision, protection, healing, guidance and love is a verbal affirmation of His significance in your life. Your testimony is vital to helping your children place their trust in God.
How will your children ever know this information
about their heritage if you don’t share it with them personally?
In the Old Testament there are many accounts concerning the “family history” of the Children of Israel, the descendants of Abraham and Sarah, and their story is recorded for us to read. God knew the importance of this type of storytelling, and He gave the Children of Israel specific instructions concerning this, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11: 18 – 21)
As children of God, we are also part of this family, and we too can learn from these accounts. Not only do the stories include examples where God blessed those who followed His commands, but likewise there are many narratives explaining the consequences His people suffered when they failed to obey God’s commands. We learn from both examples. God gave clear instructions about how His people should live, and He told them, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
Not only will your children benefit from hearing about the times God has blessed you for your obedience, but they can also learn from your mistakes. There may be examples in your life where you chose a path which led you away from God. Perhaps you suffered consequences as a result of those choices. Sharing these types of stories with your children will help prevent them from making the same types of mistakes in their own lives. It will also help them remember the importance of following God’s plan for their lives, so that they can avoid the pitfalls which come from following a different path. It’s possible that your story might even provide a roadmap back to God if your child has veered from His path.
The example you set for your children will be the one they follow in passing this legacy down to their children…and all the children of your family yet to be born. Remember the grand purpose of these types of discussions: to help your children place their trust in God, to understand His vital role in their lives, and to remember the wondrous ways He has intervened in their lives. The results will go down in eternal history!