The last few weeks have been hard for my family as we dealt with the loss of my husband’s grandmother. We were able to gather with family to mourn her passing and consider her legacy.
The time around a loved one’s death is filled with all sorts of emotions; sadness over our own loss; regret over words unsaid; nostalgia as memories are shared; and, for the family of a Christian who has passed away, joy that they are now in the presence of God and no longer suffering in this world.
During the time with my husband’s family, my mind was taken back to the loss of two of my own grandparents, my dad’s parents.
I remember as, at each of their funerals, their children and grandchildren gathered and told stories, reminiscing about family traditions, games played, and favorite memories. Although my time with them felt too short, I’m so grateful I was able to get to know them like I did.
But mostly, I’m grateful for their legacy of faith.
My dad grew up with parents who were open about their faith, sharing it with their children. He then followed their example, sharing his faith and being the one God used to share the gospel with me.
I think this is the picture God was painting in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Israel was commanded to share God’s Word with their children. They were told to live out their faith, letting it be a part of every part of their lives.
Psalm 78 is a retelling of many of the mighty works God did for Israel. In the verses 5 through 7, the psalmist says:
[God] 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…
The purpose of sharing what the Lord had done for them was “that they should set their hope in God.”
We need to be faithful to share with the next generation what God has done in our lives. This isn’t merely telling them about right and wrong, what they should and shouldn’t do. Testifying to the next generation means showing them the changing, sanctifying power of Christ. This should be something that they can see as they watch us.
Because our children are watching us. They’re seeing how we do things, how we handle hard times, how we react to the different situations life throws at us. They watch and notice if what we say lines up with what we do.
As a young mom, I’m at the very beginning stages of learning what it looks like to share my faith with my children. This is why I’m so thankful for grandparents, parents, and Christian friends who have walked this path ahead of me as examples. Here are a few things I’ve seen from them:
1. Make prayer a priority.
One of the greatest testaments to prayer that I have seen was from my grandfather. As he battled ALS, as his muscles stopped listening to what his brain was telling them to do, he continued to be faithful in prayer. While he was trapped in a body that was failing him, he used his stillness as an opportunity to pray. When my dad would visit his parents, his dad would have him show him his prayer list so that he could be in prayer. In his suffering, he prayed for others, lifting them up to the Lord. And in that, he displayed Christ to those around him.
Prayer is so important to our walk with Christ. It’s an opportunity to praise Him, give thanks, ask for forgiveness, present our needs to Him, and spend time with Him. We are so blessed to be able to go to the Creator of the universe in prayer. Anywhere, anytime. It’s truly incredible.
But sometimes we take it for granted. We “heap up empty phrases” (Matt. 6:7) as we pray by rote because it’s mealtime or bedtime or we just think we have to. This is not what I mean by “make prayer a priority.” I mean actually taking the time to pray intentionally. Praying when you find out someone you love is hurt to petition God for their safety, when someone shares a need with you and you stop what you are doing to take that need before God, when a child is navigating a hard situation and you take the time to pray together for God’s wisdom to know what to do.
When prayer is a priority in your own life, it is obvious to those around you, those watching you, and it testifies to who Christ is.
2. Spend time in the Word together.
God’s Word changes lives. It is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12). 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
As believers, we should be spending time in the Word for our own personal growth. We should also be modeling for our children what this looks like.
When I was pregnant with Baby Girl, tired and chasing Little Man all over the house, I shared with my friend how hard it was for me to make time for reading the Bible. I was just so tired and anytime my son was asleep, I wanted to sleep. I had my own idea of what my quiet time should look like, and I just couldn’t make it happen.
Then she told me something that changed my thinking; she told me how, when her children were younger, she would read her bible with them. As she’d read, she would ask them to listen for certain words in the passage. Not only was she able to spend time in the Word, but she was engaging her kids with it as well.
It’s such a small thing, but it opened my eyes to such an important need. I hadn’t thought about reading the Bible with my toddler. But why not? Although having personal study time is important, so is time in the Word as a family.
3. Ask for forgiveness.
Asking for forgiveness is hard. Really hard. It requires humbling yourself and admitting you were wrong.
But we actually are wrong a lot of the time. We react harshly, we mix up our priorities, we say things that hurt others. And we know that we need to ask God for forgiveness, but it’s asking other people for forgiveness that can be even harder.
I was discussing parenting with another friend of mine when she brought up the important topic of asking for forgiveness from your children. As parents, you make mistakes, you handle situations poorly or aren’t disciplining like you should or just make a bad choice. You then have the opportunity to apologize, to show your children what it looks like to admit you are wrong and need forgiveness.
We all make mistakes. We all need forgiveness. Asking for it sometimes takes practice, and modeling that for your children can help them understand a little bit better what it looks like to ask Christ for forgiveness.
I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by family and other believers to look at to see what living out your faith looks like. I have witnessed what it looks like to “run with endurance” (Heb. 12:1). Their testimonies encourage me to stay faithful, to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (Heb. 13:15), to share my own testimony with my children that they may hear of the Lord’s good works.
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
What are some ways that you have seen this modeled? How are you trying to share your faith with those coming up after you?