“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:18 NIV)
As parents, we have a profound duty to instruct and witness to the reality of God to the next generation. In today’s world, if parents are not experiencing God’s presence in their own lives, it may be difficult for them to pass on much to their children.
Even if parents believe in God and are practicing Christians, they may leave this instruction up to the church in the form of Catholic schools, religious education and Sunday school. While the church does indeed have a role, parents still have the primary responsibility.
I know of many Christian families who do indeed fulfill this responsibility in a variety of ways — reading stories from a Children’s Bible; praying together at meals, the beginning of the day or at bedtime; establishing family traditions during Christmas and Easter, and otherwise nurturing faith and knowledge of God.
Just as important is the personal example parents can provide to their children. While I never made a show of it, I never hesitated letting my children see me in my personal prayer time as they came down stairs before breakfast. More important was for them to see my wife and me treat each other with love and respect, acknowledge our mistakes, seek forgiveness when we messed up, and let our actions generally reflect love, truth and service. While we didn’t always fulfill these objectives, we tried.
Today, our children are adults with families and children of their own. We are blessed to see how they are passing on their love of the Lord and the importance they place on his presence in their lives. As grandparents, we now have the opportunity to let our words and conduct be a subtle witness to our grandchildren – even yielding to their favorite form of communication, texting.
In a culture where traditional Christian values seem under attack, what better gift can we provide than to let the next generation see through our lives that God is real, that we can have a personal relationship with him, and that the Holy Spirit empowers us to bring his presence to the people and circumstances of our lives — all for the purpose of bringing about his kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Are you passing on the Good News to the next generation, particularly your children and grandchildren?