9 Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, 10 especially concerning the day you stood before theLord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (emphasis mine)
God commanded us to tell His stories to our children and grandchildren so they wouldn’t turn away from God. According to statistics, less than 4% of the next generation are currently engaged at all in church, much less engaged in any meaningful way. It’s a good time to begin asking God what we haven’t done and what we can change.
God tells the people to “keep” themselves, then tells them to retell the stories to their children. He didn’t command the Israelites to read the scriptures to their children. God told them to tell them the marvelous stories of what happened to them and the commitments they made to Him. The interesting thing is how much God insisted that the retelling of the stories was first for those who experienced them. If we don’t retell stories, we don’t forget them, but we do lose the impact they created at first.
Making Them Real
By retelling stories, we make a past reality come alive. From the earliest age, we’re captivated by stories. We are all created with a vivid imagination so that any story we’re told as a child we end up placing ourselves in. How many of you were cowboys when you were little? How many of you have little children who are Jedi or Power Rangers? Children can re-create the world of a story inside their head. God knows this because He created them this way.
We can’t capture children’s hearts by teaching them scripture, but by telling them stories. But we can’t tell stories we don’t have. We can’t tell the stories of scripture to our kids in any meaningful way if we don’t “have” them ourselves. God’s Word can’t be ink on paper to us; it must be alive in our lives. It has to change us. It has to impact us. Kids can see phony. If we don’t “have” it, they can see it very easily.
So how do we “get” it? Let’s ask David:
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. Psalm 9:1
I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:11-12
Our Own Stories
David (and the other Psalmists) was intimately aware of this reality. He knew he had to meditate on and retell God’s marvelous works in his life or he’d wither. And before we cast any stones at David for how his children turned out, how many of us have had God tell us the Messiah would come from our children?
The key here is to have stories of our own where God has shown up. If we have seen and felt and known God personally and experientially in our lives (the subjective word) in our lives, then the scriptures (the objective Word) will become alive to us. It will have meaning and value and it will change us. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day knew the scriptures backwards and forwards. They literally had them memorized, but they were completely meaningless to them because they didn’t “have” them.
A Personal History In God
We have to build our own personal history in God. Our history is the stories of the times God has come through for us supernaturally. What I mean is when God has supernaturally spoken to us, provided for us or healed our bodies, hearts and minds. These make God real to us and they will make His written Word much more real to us.
Are you ready to make it real? This is important because it changes us. We no longer know God loves us because “for the Bible tells us so” but because the Living Word; the God-Man tells us so. Scripture doesn’t exist just to legislate our morality and help us through our daily lives but to lead us to a Man.
What Will You Do?
Will you make a commitment today to ask God to speak to you? What do you want God to say to you?