To put an exclamation point on this series of posts related to our new 4th Soil Parenting Initiative, here’s a reflection that I wrote a few years ago. It strikes me as even more timely today…
There they were—millions of them camped on the edge of the promised land. Moses knew he wasn’t going with them. He also knew that there was so much that they likely didn’t understand about this new land, and the very different shape their lives were about to take.
The shape of worship and the traditions that had become their way of life as the children of Israel in the wilderness were about to change dramatically. They couldn’t fully fathom it yet, but the customs that they had grown into for survival over generations of necessity just weren’t going to work as lasting patterns for following the Lord their God as they settled and became immersed in this land. They were about to leave the world of the wilderness and move into the land that God had promised, filled with “cities you did not build, wells you did not dig, vineyards you did not plant” (Deuteronomy 6:11).
Have you ever thought about what it was like to be THOSE parents, headed with the children they loved into that new land? Yes, it was a land filled with milk and honey, but it was also a whole new world, filled with people who didn’t share their God or their way of living. There would be consequences as their children became natives of this new culture. Did they sense how hard it would be to make sure their children continued to worship the Lord their God?
So here are the five things Moses told them to do: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 1. Impress them on your children. 2. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up. 3. Tie them as symbols on your hands and 4. Bind them on your foreheads. 5. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut 6:4-9)
Moses knew that the ways of here would not be enough for there. He knew they would need to remember what God had done, and literally attach that story to their children—in multiple ways in the midst of everyday life. He told them to “wear” the story in ways that others would see it. Moses did not tell them to take the Ark and immediately build a temple. He told them…
Only FAMILYING the faith—connecting through loving, ongoing relationships, talking about it daily and living God’s commandments with the people in their daily lives would have an impact in this new world.
So here we are. We, too, are moving into a new land—each year, more and more into a boundary-less, technology-driven new world where 4,000 churches close their doors each year. Whew. Not surprisingly, the customs and church cultures that we have known for the last several generations don’t appear to be working in the same ways in THIS new land either. But this is the only world our children and grandchildren will know.
But children of God, rest assured—we’ve been here before. God is still moving through that reluctant servant Moses and has already given us the tools to do this. Moses is saying, first of all: “Parents, your faith matters—WRITE THESE THINGS ON YOUR HEARTS”: 1. Share the story with your children, and 2. Talk about it in the midst of life’s circumstances, and 3. Let others see that you follow God, and 4. Put reminders on your family so you don’t forget, and 5. Set your homes apart.
How do we want to live these five keys from Moses in our new world? What do they look like for today? What do you think?
Dr. Nancy Going serves as the Director of Research & Resource Development for Vibrant Faith. Nancy lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband Art, an Anglican priest, and they have launched two new families from their children.