How do we pass on faith to our children?

Psalm 78

October 22 is here again. It is a big day in our family.


It is a day we celebrate my son’s birth. Which means it is also a day we rejoice in God’s faithfulness to us.


Our son knows the story, too. How he is our little 3 pound baby, born two months early, with a name that means so much more to us than its definition.


The telling of his story is the words of Psalm 78 brought to life.

we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. – Psalm 78:4, 6-7


The desire to pass on faith to our children has existed among Christ-followers for generations. And many have turned to the words of Psalm 78 for wisdom and inspiration.


It reminds us that telling stories is a huge part of leaving a legacy. When we share tales from our own lives and narratives from biblical texts, we bring God to life. We demonstrate to our children that God is alive and active in the world, and that His involvement in it is nothing new. He has been faithful for generations upon generations.


And yet, when I read Psalm 78, I notice something important: the psalmist does not just stick to the happy parts.


My mouth effortlessly spills out tales of celebration with my children. My stories overflow with recounting how God was present and real to me.


Stories of when God seemed to have abandoned me, or when I walked away from Him, take much greater effort and messiness to unearth.


The writer of Psalm 78 weaves the good, the bad, the easy, and the difficult all together into one real life account of what it’s like to be among the people of God. So that the next generation will know that God, miracles, and pain co-exist in the story of faith.


Our legacy is in danger when we forget to share the spectrum. We leave our kids with the impression that faith is like a math equation. A faithful me + a faithful God = a life full of blessings.


But what happens when they find out it is more like creative writing? With plot twists and disappointments around many a corner?


Will it make them wonder if it was all a lie?


I love how the Psalmist is not afraid to show the intertwining of broken people and their loving Creator, with complications as much a part of the narrative as blessings.


And it makes me wonder when my son will be ready to hear other parts of the story. The sock-in-the-gut experience of coming home from the hospital without him in our arms. The deep anxieties of lying in that hospital during the week before his birth, wondering how it would all turn out.


Those experiences are part of the story too. And sharing them doesn’t minimize the story. In fact, perhaps God’s faithfulness shines most clearly through the foggy lens of the true human experience.


That was my reflection on Psalm 78. Check out the links below to read the reflections of others. Or add your own. Then join next week for a reflection on Psalm 79.