This post, another written and shared by Gretchen, is a great read. We love Gretchen’s heart – you can see it clearly here.
There’s a chilling sentence tucked in at the end of Judges 2, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD…” How could that have happened? And then, I remember…
Many years ago I unexpectedly found myself a single mother of two young children, then four and five years old. As I was searching through the Scriptures for hope and encouragement, I was profoundly impacted by the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-9:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
Now, I’d been a Christian since I was a young child, had attended church my entire life, been to countless Bible studies, and had even done a stint at Bible college. Still, as I read those verses, my heart was confronted with the reality that I didn’t love God like that, nor did I know the Bible thoroughly enough to talk about it as I was sitting at home or walking along the road. God’s words were not written, even metaphorically, on the door frames of my house or on my gate. When I think back on that moment, it’s a poignant reminder that my own children could have been part of “another generation after them who did not know the LORD.”
The parents of the generation referred to at the end of Judges 2 were those who had seen God’s presence with them in the wilderness as cloud by day and fire by night, who had experienced His provision and protection in the wilderness for 40 years, who had seen Him flatten the walls of Jericho and bring the other miraculous victories that had given them the land in which they now lived. Some of them would have been children when they witnessed how God parted the Red Sea and saved the entire nation of Israel. And yet, a generation arose after them who did not know the LORD.
God had implored them not to let that happen, not just once in the verses above in Deuteronomy 6, but many times. In Deuteronomy 4:9, the Lord says, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…” In Judges 4 we’re told how the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, and how the Lord commanded them to set up 12 stones as a memorial so that, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’” Psalm 78 says, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments…” In the New Testament, too, the Lord instructs parents to teach their children about him. In Ephesians 6, fathers are told to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. These are but a few examples from the whole of Scripture.
With the jolting words of Judges 2 in front of us, how do we avoid being the forerunners of a generation after us who doesn’t know the Lord? Certainly, we need to pursue knowing Him more deeply so that our hearts and lives reflect who He is to the next generation. They need to see our hearts being responsive to the Lord and His Word as we live, work, parent, and serve. We need to be transparent about our failures and struggles and the way in which the Lord loves us in the midst of them. And, we need to speak often of His steadfast love and faithfulness through all of joys and sorrows of life.
Recently I had the great blessing of hearing a woman in her 80s speak about God’s faithfulness in her life. Her father had abandoned her and her mom when she was a toddler. Her stepfather was killed in World War II. She had grown up to become a teacher of missionary children in the Philippines and had gone on to serve by encouraging missionaries all over the world. As a single—and in recent years, elderly—woman, she had traveled through many dangerous cities.
As this lovely woman spoke, she recounted God’s faithfulness to her through all of her life experiences, both good and bad. When she finished, one was not left thinking what a remarkable woman she is (though she certainly is), but rather, what an amazing, loving, faithful God she has loved and served all these years. Though she doesn’t have children of her own, this is the God she has shared with countless children all over the world. She is a precious example of what it means to share with the next generation what knowing God—really knowing Him—means.
I’m a single parent in my 50s. You may be a parent of infants or grown-ups, a single man or woman, a pastor, a teacher, a big brother or sister, or a grandparent. Will you join me in seeking the Lord so that decades from now it will not be said of us, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD…”? Instead, let us share with the next generation what Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”