3 Ways to Serve the Next Generation
“How can you be more concerned about your mamá’s grave than about your little granddaughter growing up without God?” I challenged the Chilean women in my Bible study a few months ago. Like Gandalf, the wise wizard in The Return of the King, I pointed out the tragedy of those who value their tombs more than their homes, who esteem their heroic forebears of greater worth than their families today. Oh Lord, help me to see clearly what matters…
As a child, I was fascinated with the idea of filling in the branches of my family tree. Perhaps every kid is interested in past generations—it’s part of our DNA. Though I peppered my maternal grandparents with questions, I was disappointed in how little they knew.
“…See today with the eyes of tomorrow.” —Alfred Mercier
But my grandparents were a lot more interested in me, in the next generation than in the previous ones. Here’s how they invested in the future (and how you and I can too):
SITTING AT THE TABLE – We cooked…and ate together. Not only Grammie’s walnut cake on the special occasions such as Thanksgiving dinner. We enjoyed the everyday toast and orange marmalade, next to the jar of spoons. Garden peas, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. Corn chowder with oyster crackers. Graham cracker pie. Christmas baking marathons with my mother-in-law.
We cultivated a habit of cooking and conversation and made the dinner hour a sacred ritual. My daughter has created a home where cooking and sharing food is the highlight of the day. Whether you like the kitchen yourself or not, sit and talk around a meal. If you’re younger than 40 and did this as a child, consider yourself among the fortunate few.
TALKING AT THE BEDSIDE – about meaningful subjects and then praying. If bedtime doesn’t work for you, find a time and place that does…but pray together! With my parents and siblings, we gathered in the living room each evening for prayer.
My grandfather’s solemn prayers in church invariably began with “Father, we thank Thee…” While we didn’t pray with Grampie elsewhere, it’s a habit we nurtured with our own children and grandchildren since they were toddlers. The family altar stands as a memorial to God’s love and “faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1).
FILLING THE BOOKSHELF – Can anyone ever read too much? My grandmother read The Wizard of Oz to me while I snuggled on her lap, and believe me, it never lasted long enough. She introduced me to Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, Heidi, and a host of other fictional characters.
I never stopped reading to my own kids until the day they moved from home. These experiences form part of our shared history. In our family, we tell stories. I’m pretty sure the only thing my girls would rather do than hear a story is write one. Perhaps like Tolkien and Lewis, we write what we want to read.
Droplet Gift #4: Instead of lofty theology today, how about focusing on these three simple things? Take a break from toys and gadgets, investment portfolios, and elaborate monuments. No matter the age of your “next generation,” what better way to shape the future and show your love than to…
Lord, don’t take me home until…I’ve served tomorrow’s generation by sharing a priceless inheritance today.