These photos of Brian’s and my grandparents sit on a dresser in my house. We love these sweet people, however when our generation passes will anyone remember them? Will these photos end up in the dustbin? Probably. These people are strangers to my children.
I was thinking about that the other day and it dawned on me that as much as I love my children and my grandchildren, and as much as I hope to continue to be a part of their lives, one day there will be no recollection of me. I will be gone; as we all will be. The statistics can’t be manipulated: 100% of us will die. Moreover, we will be forgotten.
Perhaps it is the anniversary of my dad’s move into glory that prompted me to think about this. Only two of my grandchildren got to meet my dad, and they have very little recollection of him. G.G. (great-Grandpa) is becoming a shadowy figure from the past who now lives in heaven.
They were too young to have memories of him that are vibrant and clear. Sure, I can tell stories about him of adventure and excitement, love and adoration, and even of hard times, but eventually that’s all it will be to them: stories. Stories of a man who – though he meant the world to me – somehow isn’t fully real to them anymore. And I understand that.
I know my ancestors were real and alive, and just like my own dad, celebrated holidays and weddings, births and deaths, sorrow and rejoicing. But unlike dad, those people are strangers to me — vague, indistinct, almost spectral-like characters in my family’s history with whom I have no relationship.
For some of us that’s what God is like: someone who lived with your ancestors, but never really with you; he exists in a story from Sunday school. God is someone your parents or grandparents loved and respected but he is not really missed because he’s been gone so long. You only have the stories to keep you connected, and once the story-tellers are gone, so will God be.
Maybe there are drawings of Jesus hanging in your parents’ or grandparents’ homes, but once that generation dies, will those cherished pieces wind up in the dustbin of history? Probably. Who keeps art work depicting strangers?
Our grandparents or parents might have loved the Lord, but if there is no relationship, no reality, no interaction with him in our generation – will there be anyone who knows him in the next. Will God be little more than an indistinct figure from the past who now lives in heaven. Has he already become that for you? I hope not.
The truth is: God is alive in every generation, but if we have not been introduced to him, how will we know him? And if we do know him, and we don’t introduce him to our children, who will introduce him to our grandchildren? This is a very real dilemma. Do you have a relationship with the Living God? Have you introduced him to your children?
Perhaps, like many in my generation, you thought that you would wait until your children were older and let them decide whether they wanted to know God, or have a relationship with him. Seriously? That’s like waiting till they’re older to introduce them to their grandparents. Oh, wait, you know their grandparents, don’t you. Could it be that you haven’t introduced your children to God because you don’t know God?
Or perhaps you didn’t want them to develop a negative relationship with God so you didn’t insist they go to church. Seriously? That’s like not insisting they go to school so they don’t develop a negative relationship with math. Could it be that you didn’t take them to church because you didn’t know the One you were taking them to worship?
The tendency of each generation to forget God when life gets easy, or fail to introduce him to the next generation, has always been a reality. God knows this and he has taught us how to overcome it: by living in a loving relationship with him. Love the Lord, your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
In order to do this, to love this way, we must know who it is that we love. We cannot love someone whom we do not know – a stranger – any more than we can deeply love a distant relative that we know only through a fading photograph. There must be a close relationship of mutual sharing.
How do we come to know God well enough to love him with all of our being? We come through Jesus. The only way to know God is to get acquainted with Jesus. Jesus is not an ambassador for God; he is God, God in the flesh, God with us. Jesus is the full expression of God’s love for us.
And how do we introduce our children to him? First, we must live in faithful, fearful, and loving obedience. Secondly, we must diligently and intentionally teach God’s way to our children. We must talk about him wherever we go, and whatever we do. And, we decorate our homes with God’s words. God must be present in every part of our lives.
Imagine how much we would know about our ancestors if our grandparents and their grandparents, had talked about them all of the time! Imagine how much our children would know about God if he were always a part of our conversation. Imagine how well our grandchildren would know him.
We forget people when we don’t feel a need to remember them. There are always new lives that fill up the void left by those who pass away. But, when we forget God, destruction moves in to fill the void.
I’m OK with being forgotten. I’m not OK with my descendants not knowing God. Therefore, I will continue to do all I can to introduce everyone I love to the Lord, because it is only in Christ Jesus that we have the assurance of life after life.
When you are gone, and forgotten, will those you leave behind continue to live in Jesus?
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