Tell Me a Story

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My mom recently told me an unbelievable family story.

Seems her cousin, who lived in Germany in the late 1920s, was being recruited to join the Hitler-Jugend (the Hitler Youth). He had been harassed by a group of his so-called friends for some time but stood firm in his conviction not to join the group. One day, while sitting on a wall with his friends, someone pushed him, and he plunged to his death.

He was twelve years old. 

As I said, I’m still pondering the situation and its impact on my mom’s family. But what I think about most is this: what would cause a twelve-year-old boy to have such strong convictions that he would resist the Hitler Youth to the point of death?

I’m so impressed by his strength, his confidence, his resistance. And I have to say, I’m pretty proud to have someone like this in my family lineage. It makes me want to be a better person, to stand up for what’s right, to have a greater sense of justice.

Do you know that when we share family stories like this, we’re actually helping our kids? Research has shown that children who know their family history—things like where their grandparents grew up or how their parents met—have a stronger sense of control over their lives. In fact, the more a child knows about their family history, research tells us, the better their emotional health and sense of personal satisfaction.

Turns out, telling our family stories is actually helpful for increasing our child’s self-confidence.  

God must have known how important those family stories would be, not just for increasing our kids’ self-confidence, but for carrying on a legacy of faith. In Joshua chapter 4, the Israelites have just set foot on the Promised Land after years and years of wandering in the desert. God immediately tells the people to make an altar of twelve stones to signify God’s faithfulness, and he tells them why: “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’”

In other words, when your kids and grandkids ask about the family, tell them about God’s faithfulness.

Psalm 78:2-4 continues this idea:

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
    stories we have heard and known,
    stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
    we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
    about his power and his mighty wonders. 

The psalm goes on to talk about how God commanded the people to tell their children (remember crossing the Red Sea, you Israelites?), and here’s why:

So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
    not forgetting his glorious miracles
    and obeying his commands. (Ps. 78:7)

Three reasons we should tell our kids about God’s faithfulness to our families.

1. So our kids will have hope.

The hope the Bible talks about is not a fleeting hope—it’s a hope set on God. This is the kind of hope that lasts. I don’t know about you, but in a world that feels hopeless, I want my kids to have a sure hope.

2. So they won’t forget God’s “glorious miracles.”

Tell your kids about the time you found money tucked in an envelope in your doorway—just the right amount for a car repair you couldn’t afford. (Yes, that happened to us!) Tell the stories of the times God saved a family member from certain peril. Tell your kids about all the ways God has shown up for you. These aren’t coincidences—they’re miracles!

3. So our kids will obey God’s commands.

Having hope in God and seeing his faithfulness should lead our kids to greater obedience. Our children need to hear from us that God can be trusted. When we impart our own faith, sharing in what God has done, our kids, hopefully, will want to, not just follow, but obey the same trustworthy God we do.

Friend, God wants you to be a parent who takes seriously the idea of carrying on their faith from generation to generation, and one way to do that is to share the stories of His faithfulness.

Why not spend some time this week, maybe around the dinner table, sharing something great that God has done for you? And while you’re at it, ask your children how they have seen God at work at school or with their friends. Perhaps you’ll want to share how a grandparent or great-grandparent was changed by God’s intervention in their life.

Telling these stories not only helps our children gain confidence, but it also just might help carry on the legacy of faith to a new generation.


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