Summary: If you want to create an atmosphere of faith for your children and grandchildren, trust God enough to give your children to the Lord and bless them with His promise for their future.
Years ago, most families with homes in the country used an outhouse. A boy in one family hated it, because the outhouse was hot in the summer, cold in the winter, and it stunk all the time.
The outhouse sat on the bank of a creek, and the boy determined that one day he would push that outhouse into the water. One day, after the spring rain, the creek was full, so the boy decided that he was going to push the outhouse into the creek that day. He got a large stick and pushed and pushed and pushed. Finally, the outhouse toppled into the swollen creek and floated away. That night the father confronted his son and said, “Someone pushed the outhouse into the creek today. It was you, wasn't it son?”
“Yes,” the boy answered.
Then he though a moment and said, “Dad, I read in school today that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn't get into trouble because he told the truth.”
The father replied, “Well son, George Washington's father wasn't IN that cherry tree.” (Randy Frazee, The Heart of the Story, Zondervan, 2011, pp. 111-112; www.PreachingToday.com)
Raising children and grandchildren is not always easy. You want to pass your faith on to the next generation or two, but sometimes you wonder if they’re really getting it.
Now, there’s no sure-fire guarantee that people of faith will raise children of faith. But you can create an atmosphere, a context, where your children and grandchildren are more likely to make your faith their own.
The question is: How? How do you pass the faith on to the next generation or two? How do you create an atmosphere for faith in your children? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Hebrews 11, Hebrews 11, where we see how Abraham did it for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Hebrews 11:17-18 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” (ESV)
God had promised Abraham that he would have many descendants through Isaac. And yet God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a whole, burnt offering, which Abraham nearly did before God stopped Him.
I like the way Martin Luther, the great 16th Century reformer, told the story of Abraham and Isaac form Genesis 22:
Abraham was told by God that he must sacrifice the son of his old age by a miracle, the seed through whom he was to become the father of kings and of a great nation. Abraham turned pale. Not only would he lose his son, but God appeared to be a liar. He had said, “In Isaac shall be thy seed”, but now he said, “Kill Isaac.” Who would not hate a God so cruel and contradictory?
How Abraham longed to talk it over with someone! Could he not tell Sarah? But he… knew that if he mentioned it to anyone, he would be dissuaded and prevented from carrying out the [request].
The spot designated for the sacrifice, Mount Moriah, was some distance away; “and Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his [donkey], and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and [cut] the wood for the burnt-offering.” Abraham did not leave the saddling of the [donkey] to others. He himself laid on the beast the wood for the burnt offering. He was thinking all the time that these logs would consume his son, his hope of [many descendants]. With these very sticks that he was picking up the boy would be burned.
In such a terrible case, should he not take time to think it over? Could he not tell Sarah? With what inner tears he suffered! He [loaded up] the [donkey] and was so absorbed he scarcely knew what he was doing.
He took two servants and Isaac his son. In that moment everything died in him; Sarah, his family, his home, Isaac. This is what it is to sit in sackcloth and ashes. If he had known that this was only a trial, he would not have been tried. Such is the nature of our trials that while they last, we cannot see to the end.
“Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.” What a battle he had endured in those three days! There, Abraham left the servants and the donkey. He laid the wood upon Isaac and himself took the torch and sacrificial knife. All the time he was thinking, “Isaac, if you knew, if your mother knew, that you are to be sacrificed.”
“And they went both of them together.” [Nobody knows] what here took place. They two walked together. Who? The father and the dearest son – the one not knowing what was in store but ready to obey, the other certain that he must leave his son in ashes.