Strengthening the Faith of the Next Generation
My first year as a transfer student at the University of Texas was veiled in loneliness. I knew no one. I remember my husband, Rusty (boyfriend at the time), and my best friend drove me to my new dorm. During the ride, we joked and laughed until we cried. But after they said goodbye and I sat alone on my bed, surrounded by unfamiliar smells and sounds, I cried very different tears. As my eyes desperately searched for anything to bring me comfort, I found my Bible. Having been untouched for the last year or so, I hesitantly picked it up and began fanning the pages for something familiar to read. Page after page covered me in peace and from that time on, I was hesitant to put it down. I clung to it for the next couple of years while at school. The stories of real, imperfect people, just like me, strengthened my faith and guided me during my first years of fumbling through life on my own.
God’s Stories for Us
The Bible is like God’s giant journal. From cover to cover, we see His hand moving throughout past generations to accomplish His big plan. We see stories of grace, mercy, blessing and discipline. And we learn from them, don’t we? We see ourselves in these stories. And we see a loving, forgiving and powerful God that brought people through rough seas, raging fires, losses, enemy’s hands and the weaknesses of their own hearts. Isn’t this where we get our strength? When we read the stories of people who are confused, scared, frustrated, disobedient, clueless and weak like us, aren’t our spirits excited by seeing how God carried them through? The Bible is a perfect example of how effective writing can be for future generations.
Writing is the method our Father chose to communicate His great stories to us.
So, have you ever wondered why God tasked people with the job of writing these stories down? Because He knows us. He knows we forget. We forget who He is, who we are and what He’s done. And He knows we wonder if He forgets about us, too. And when I open my Bible and read these stories in my times of loneliness, confusion or weakness, I am reminded of God’s goodness and presence and I wait in expectation to see signs of Him working in my life, as He did in theirs. The Bible was His plan to strengthen us and reveal Himself to us.
Our Stories for Our Children
So, this got me thinking about how our writings, as parents, could benefit our children in the same way the Bible strengthens us.
Yes, our children have the Bible, just as we do. But sharing personal stories with them of how God worked in their parent’s lives is a way of them seeing our faith in action. As they read our stories, they see our humanity. They see how we call out to God. They see how He hears and answers. Or they see how we wait, because we know His plan is worth waiting for. And if our children grow up being reminded of these works of God in our lives, they will remember His faithfulness to us, time and time again and they’ll know, without a doubt, that He will be faithful to them as well.
How to Share Our Stories
The writing I’m talking about here is simple journaling; recording God’s work in your life. This can be done in different ways. The key to success is choosing a method that’s reasonable for your schedule, personality and lifestyle. There’s not one right way.
My favorite way is to keep a prayer journal. Sometimes, I leave my laptop in the room that’s in the center of the house, our kitchen, and whenever a prayer request or praise comes to mind, I type it up. This works well for me because if I need to leave the room to get my laptop or find a notepad and pencil, I’m just not going to do it. Then, when that prayer is answered in some way, I update it with details on how God worked in that situation. I don’t usually write a book about it. A few sentences can be enough.
I’ve also kept paper and pencil beside my bed so I can jot down a few sentences of something God has shown me that day. You could also keep it in the school room or laundry room if that’s more convenient. I have no expectations on how long my writing must be each time or how often I have to write; just long enough to explain the basic situation and I only write when something particular is on my mind.
If you haven’t made a habit of journaling in the past, it would be wonderful to take time to think back through the big times in your life that stick out in your mind of when you were in a tough situation and how God brought you through and write them down. Likewise, write about the blessings, so your children can recognize the goodness of God.
Share Them Now!
Now, once you’ve started, SHARE THEM! That’s what this is all about. Don’t wait until you’re gone from this earth and hope that they’ll find them among your things you’ve left behind. Read back through a few entries at mealtime or bedtime. Bedtime is when my boys frequently say, “Mom, tell us a story about when you were little.” They love to hear our stories, but it’s hard to remember them all. This is where the journal is helpful. You’ve taken the time to write them down and now they’re at your fingertips. I recently read a couple of stories to my girls and I was surprised at how much I’d forgotten about those times. By the time we were done, we had laughed together, and those stories led to a great discussion we might not have had otherwise.
Gifting Your Stories
And if you truly enjoy writing, you could get elaborate with it. You could record the major “God-working” events from your life into a beautiful journal and pass it on to your child for high school graduation or their wedding. Or, if you’ve typed it up, print out several copies and have them bound as gifts for all your children to be given at a special time in their life.
Get creative and keep it simple! Your kids will cherish the memories and their faith will be strengthened by your stories even after you’re gone.
If you already journal, share the ideas that work for you and your family. Have you been inspired by this idea? If so, let me know in the comments and share with your friends. It’s my prayer that House on a Hill will be a light to all who stop by!