Many of you may already know, but a couple of years before our oldest was to turn 16, I decided that I wanted to journal through a Bible for each of our children for their 16th birthday. So, I quietly bought a beautiful leather edition with large margins and set to work, reading through the entire Bible, writing notes to Camden along the way, praying for him, asking for insight into his heart and personality, and praying for wisdom to write things that would be incredibly helpful for him for the rest of his life.
When his birthday came around, I held my breath as I handed him what had become a massive labor of love. I had already told myself that a 16 year old boy couldn’t possibly understand what a treasure he was actually receiving, but in time he may appreciate it more. I was blown away by his reaction, though. He really DID appreciate it. He painstakingly flipped through it, and he even pointed out pages I didn’t write anything on and asked why I skipped them.
And then his younger siblings started asking if they would get one, too.
I’m now working on my 4th time reading through the Bible with a specific child in mind, journaling and writing notes for Lila as I go. I’ve been amazed at the difference of takeaways I’ve had each time I’ve read it– clearly God is answering my prayers for wisdom and insight into the hearts of my individual children.
This morning, I finished the book of Judges. It’s a hard book to read, right? There are so many wicked things that happen– hard, “uncivilized” things. Things we all have a difficult time explaining to our children– and things that some like to use to lessen the significance of the Old Testament.
Over and over throughout Judges, though, God gives us the answer as to why things were so awful. “Every man did what was right in his own eyes…” It seems like every time you flip a page, you’re reading that phrase.
That’s especially significant, because for so much of the Biblical narrative before we get to Judges, we see God doing great and mighty things for His people. This isn’t very far removed from the ones who saw God hold back the rushing Jordan River so they could cross safely or bring down the walls of Jericho miraculously. (And that was AFTER He provided food and water through them as they wandered in the wilderness.)
How did they go so far so fast? Judges 2:10-12 gives us the stunning answer.
“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers, And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, Who had brought them out of the land of Egypt.”
DID YOU SEE IT?
The generation who had seen God work first hand clearly did not pass on those stories to build faith and prepare their children for life on their own. It took one generation before one arose “that did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel.”
I can’t help but wonder if we’re teetering right there now. Far too many parents are not actively engaging in the discipleship of their children, and the effects are being seen in technicolor as we see our culture becoming more and more defined by “doing what is right in their own eyes.”
Don’t give up, mom and dad! Don’t even slow down in your efforts to disciple and shepherd the hearts of your children. Now is the time to point them to Jesus. Now is the time to explain why things seem so dark and to help them learn to think Biblically about cultural issues and the people impacted by it. This is the moment to help them take to heart Jesus’ words about Loving God and Loving People.
You are on the frontlines, whether you think of yourself that way or not. As parents, we all have the privilege of shaping the future. How dreadful would it be for it to be said of our children that they didn’t know our God!
That’s enough to keep us on our knees and in God’s Word day by day, right?!