I can’t imagine not knowing the Lord. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Jesus as my Savior. I would be a mess. (Not that I’m not a mess now, in certain respects. But it would be much worse!) I would be a groveling mess, aching to be loved, chasing after whatever would make me feel like I belonged and had meaning. I would have even LESS patience with my kids. I would expect my husband – or whatever man was in my life – to fulfill me. I would no doubt be seeking to maintain happiness and status with possessions. My heart would have no peace. My life would be filled with worry and fear.
But in his wisdom, God placed people in my life that taught me about him. My parents. Grandparents. Aunts and Uncles. Pastors. Sunday school teachers. VBS and AWANA leaders. Many, many adults who poured into my life. Who talked, sang, demonstrated, and modeled the amazing theology of “Jesus Loves Me.”
Now, it is not by their hard work that I am saved. I am only saved through the grace of Jesus Christ, and the moving of the Holy Spirit in my life to see my need for him and accept his forgiveness. BUT –
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14
In 1992 at First Baptist Church in Willmar, MN, one spunky lady volunteered to be the AWANA leader for the third grade girls. Her name is Judy Treptau, and today is her (??th!) birthday.
For 11 years, Judy instructed me. She loved me. She spent time with me. She laughed with me. She cried with me. She listened to me. She goofed off with me. She scolded me. She prayed with me and for me. She sacrificed for me. Is Judy perfect? She would be the first to tell you, no. Was her theology 100% accurate all of the time? Probably not. Did she know everything about the Bible? No. But did she love Jesus and live to tell me about Him? You bet. I am not the only one with such a testimony about Judy.
I wonder – where would the church be without people like her?
Apparently there was a generation of Israelites who didn’t have Judy:
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10
How sad and horrible is that?
Passing on our faith is so crucial. Witnessing to anyone in our world who does not know Christ is important. But as a young mother having to realize my purpose anew, my eyes are being opened to the importance of passing on my faith to my children. Our pastor is emphasizing this in his current sermon series. Yesterday’s Scripture was from Psalm 78:
“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old – things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” (vs. 1-5)
Parents, instruct your children and other youngsters in your world that need you. If you’re not a parent? The next generation needs you, too. It takes more than just a mother and father to pass on the wonderful life of following our Lord! It takes a community, a family of believers, to walk alongside the next generation and make disciples.
Remember the instructions of the Shema – a central Jewish prayer and the ancient cornerstone of our Christian faith, given by God to Moses for the people of Israel:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 on 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 doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
If Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Phil, Gary, Brad, Judy, Nancy, Susie, Dave, Bruce, on and on…. If these men and women had not played their role in the body of Christ… who knows where I’d be?
So thanks Judy. Thank you for being a part of the body, for weaving your life into the tapestry of the family of God. You have left a legacy which is now being passed onto the NEXT generation…. for now I am the mom, the youth leader, the aunt….
“…so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” Psalm 78:5-6