Only the living can praise you as I do today. Each generation tells of your faithfulness to the next. (Isaiah 38:19)
Relate: For years on end, every summer I worked as a camp counselor for the NY Assemblies of God kids camp. At the risk of sounding like I am bragging, for a time I was legend. There were two things I was famous for. The first of those was the Goodfellas. Every year, the boys in my cabin were the called the goodfellas and we would dominate the competitions in pretty much everything, One year I had three quite big (as in round) boys but those kids would be out there, huffing and puffing, beating out older and more athletic groups in relay races by sheer grit and willpower. One year I had two boys who were known behavioral problems and neither managed to make it through an entire week of camp in years past. Those boys would memorize their Bible verses quicker than any other cabin and would sit through chapel services as sweet as (very rambunctious) angels.
The reason we were this good is because I kept a policy called “goodfellas for life”. Before the first day of camp was out, anyone who had been in my cabin previous years, was telling my kids how lucky they were to become Goodfellas. Over and over again, those who had gone on before, no matter whose cabin they were in would be passing along the legends and exploits of previous years of Goodfellas.
The other thing I was known for was the purple dice joke. I would never tell in until the last night, but again, those who had heard the joke would almost immediately start asking, “Has he told you about the purple dice yet?” The anticipation and build up is part of what made this 45 minute joke legend. I was dependent on one generation passing that anticipation on to the next.
React: There is a common saying: “God has no grandchildren.” The intention of this saying is that, simply because someone’s parents are Christian, simply because they were raised Christian, does not mean that they are Christians themselves. While this is true, it is also misleading. In a very large measure, I am Christian because I have stepped into a heritage of Christianity. This is not just because of my parents. I am grateful for godly individuals like Mrs Wojak who led me to Christ before I even started kindergarten. I am grateful for a countless number of Sunday School teachers, and Royal Rangers commanders, and camp counselors, and youth pastors who have taught and led and inspired me along my journey. I am walking in the footprints of spiritual giants most of whom have been unappreciated and unrecognized by too many in the world around them.
I am also grateful for the likes of Soren Kierkegaard and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and Emil Brunner, and even contemporary writers like Mark Batterson and Max Lucado. Their faithfulness in writing has not only fueled my own passion for the craft but also shaped my mind and straightened my steps as I walk out this journey of following after Christ. I am stepping in the footprints of spiritual giants.
In the same way, I need to be careful how I am leading those who come after me. I have a responsibility to them. No, I cannot compel anyone to become a follower of Christ. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. But I can remove stumbling blocks, I can make wide and straight and solid the path. I have a responsibility to be a heritage. I am legend.
God, let those who follow find me faithful. Help me to be careful to guard closely my words and actions not only because of the effect it has on my relationship with You but also because I have an impact on those who come behind. Help me to be an example and encouragement to the next generation. Help me to be faithful with the responsibility to share You to them just as it has been shared to me by the faithfulness of so many others. Help me to play my part in this generations continuation of the glorious history and rich legacy that is Your Church.