The Next Generation

    Did you ever have something you read in print jump off the page and into your heart? That is exactly what happened to me recently while I was reading my Bible. I came across a verse that I hadn't noticed before, although I know I have read it previously. The verse, found in Judges 24, must be one of the saddest in the Bible.

    Joshua, who had faithfully led the Israelite nation after the death of Moses, was now dead. Verse 7 says, "The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel" (NIV). Yet in verse 10 we see that after the people buried Joshua and "that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who neither knew the Lord nor what he had done for Israel." Does that verse strike you as it does me? God had been so near His people. He had provided for their every need right down to supplying food from heaven. How could their children and grandchildren not even know God or the works He had done? 

    As a parent trying my best to do all I can to raise and disciple my children in the ways of the Lord, this verse strikes me as the ultimate failure in parenting. What happened? Why did the next generation not know the Lord or what He had done for His people? Did the Israelites stop teaching their children diligently as they had been instructed to do in Deuteronomy 6:6-7? "These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up" (NKJV). 

    Thinking about the Israelites and their parental downfall caused me to evaluate the big and little things I do on a daily basis in raising my children. 

    We can't just take for granted that our kids will know God because we attend church and try to live good Christian lives. To pass on the baton to the next generation we must know God personally and be continually growing in our faith and love for Him. We must also be diligent to open our mouths and instruct our children continually in the ways of the Lord. We must teach them what His Word says. 

    God had called me to homeschool our children. But I felt God's deeper purpose in homeschooling was to be more than a matter of location, that of educating my children at our house. I felt God wanted me to put Him first by putting His Word first. So, I committed to daily reading the Bible to my children and memorizing passages in the Bible, not just brief memory verses. We started with Psalm 23 and moved on to Psalms 1 and 91. We also memorized passages in Isaiah and Ephesians. We are currently memorizing Psalm 139. I find that memorizing comes naturally for my children and can be done in 5 to 10 minutes each day during lunch. 

    This may sound simple enough, but I have high ideals for my children academically. I find that I must continually fight against placing a higher value on academics in hopes that my children will be ahead of their grade level. Instead, I consciously choose to embrace God's priorities for my children, knowing that their personal knowledge of Him supersedes all other knowledge. I know God has called me to disciple the hearts of my children first, and then to educate their minds. 

    Therefore, I am careful to include Scripture in all that we encounter in our schooling and in all areas of life.

I want them to see the value of God's Word in their lives and know that it is God's written contract and agreement with man. It is to be taken literally and applied practically. I want my children to know God means what He says in His Word and that it is our final authority in every situation. Throughout the day, when problems arise with schoolwork, sibling relations, or friendships, we pray about them and seek God's Word for direction. As we pray and see God answer, I am quick to remind my children that God hears and answers their prayers and that they are seeing His hand at work in their lives. 

    I know parents who spend more energy making sure their children eat healthy meals and snacks than they do on their spiritual well-being. When we become as dedicated to the spiritual welfare of our children as we are to their physical welfare we will see lifelong results. 

    By continually instructing my children in the ways of the Lord, I am confident that the Holy Spirit will remind them of what they have learned years down the road, when our homeschooling journey is complete. " When you go, they [the words of your parents' God] shall lead you" (Proverbs 6:22, Amplified Bible).

By Gwen Miller