I am rarely stuck for words, but this great-grandmother’s reply left me gaping like a dying codfish.
I had just finished leading a writers’ workshop based on Psalm 78:3-4 for several dozen retired people who wanted to leave a legacy of written “Family God-stories”. One elderly lady briefly told a fascinating story of how God had answered the prayers of her family during the beginning of the Great Depression.
She was just a small child but prayed earnestly for her Daddy to get a job. And he did, as a construction worker on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. When, after four and a half years, the bridge was opened on May 27, 1937, she and the rest of the family rode in the first motorcade to cross the bridge.
After the workshop I asked if she had already written that story. “No, I haven’t,” she replied, “this is the first time I have ever told this story to anyone.” Huh? Never?! The first time!? Codfish time for Jack.
I discovered she had not even told her late husband, or any of her kids, grandkids or great-grandkids. For 75 years, two generations of her family born after her had been driving across that huge orange bridge regularly, never realizing it symbolized God’s provision for their grandfather’s family during those dark, desperate depression years of the 1930s.
As I drove home that day I wondered how many thousands of other Christians are failing to tell God-stories such as these, and thus robbing Him of thousands of opportunities to receive glory and praise.
Throughout the Bible God commands people to remember—147 times in the Old Testament and 70 times in the New Testament. “. . . things we learned from our ancestors, and we will tell them to the next generation. We will not keep secret the glorious deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 78:3-4. When the Israelites stopped telling the God-stories, their descendants fell into sin, over and over again.
We live in chaotic times. It is hard to notice and then remember. We are overloaded with information and have no time to think. That is Satan’s work. Our work is to stop, think, pray, and note the answers to our prayers. Keeping a diary is a great tool to help us think, reflect and remember. The weakest ink lasts longer than the most powerful memory.
Then, we need to tell and retell the God-stories in our lives: the answers to prayer; the protection from harm; the amazing provision—all the things that God has obviously done for us. Our kids, grandkids and great-grandkids need to know these things.
If we don’t notice them, we will forget. If we don’t remember we can’t tell the next generation. Through our negligence we keep secret what God has done and rob Him of the glory and praise due to Him.
Who wants to do that?
After serving for forty years as a pastor, a linguist, educator, Bible translator, Wycliffe executive director and sought after speaker, Jack now focuses on his writing ministry. He writes weekly for two blogs, and has published three books. He is president of Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship.