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Why it’s Important to Tell Stories About Your Family

Jeremy:
We love to tease out what certain verses mean specifically for dads. And if you guys have ever read this incredibly tragic book called Judges in The Bible, it’s a tough read, and one of the things that the book tries to do is in the beginning it sort of sets up why Israel was in such a spiritual crisis. It says things over and over again, like, “There was no king and every person did what was right in his own eyes.” And there was also another, at the beginning, kind of in the prologue of the book in Judges too, it has another description for why things went so badly right after the Israelites got into the Promised Land.

And let me read this to you guys because I think this is really relevant for us. It says, “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua who had seen all the great work of the Lord, which he had done for Israel. Then Joshua, the son of none, the servant of the Lord died. All that generation also were gathered to their fathers and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel.”

So the thing that really caused this next generation to completely fall away from the Lord and fall into idolatry, one of those things was that they did not know what God did for Israel. They weren’t given the story. In other words, the previous generation did a great job of obeying the Lord, but they apparently didn’t do a great job of storytelling and explaining to their descendants all of the great things that the Lord had done. And this really reminded me of the reason why you guys probably have heard us talk about this incredible holiday in The Bible called Sukkot.

It’s the Festival of Tabernacles, and the whole point of it was to make sure that the generations coming remembered the things the Lord did for them in the wilderness. All of the ways the Lord was faithful to them in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. And so during our Sukkot celebration, it lasts for seven days, we tell stories around seven categories, and all of them relate to what happened in the wilderness because I believe that that was as well, it really is a description and a symbol of the way that we come out of slavery as people who are enslaved to sin, all the way through the wilderness because of the faithfulness of God, and into the Promised Land where ultimately we’re looking in the future, we’re going to dwell with God forever in the New Jerusalem.

But our seven themes for Sukkot are provision, guidance, wilderness, the shedding, companions, the shelter, and the destination. I want to give you guys an example of what we do. So during a celebration like this, we want to make sure that we are telling our children the stories of God’s faithfulness. So if we have a theme, so at one of the days of Sukkot, we’re around the fire under our little Sukkot, which is sort of like a little hut that we build, a temporary dwelling, and we’re going to talk about provision.

And so we just ask the elders of the family. My parents are usually there, my wife’s parents are there, her mom now, and others in the family, and then me and April and the kids. And we ask, “Okay, guys,” this is the moment every year where we ask the question, “how has God provided for our family the way that God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness?” He gave them manna, how has God provided for us? How has God been our shelter is another theme. How has God guided us? Another theme, like with the pillar of fire in the wilderness.

And so our kids will hear over and over and over again us telling stories about the provision, the guidance of God, our parents telling those stories, because we do not want this problem to occur. And so holidays, I think, are a great way to prompt storytelling conversations to make sure that the next generation hears. And don’t be afraid to repeat the stories every year. Like, “Oh yeah. Yeah. Tell us about that one. Tell us about how God brought you and mom together and how God provided for us that way.” “Oh, remember when our business was almost about to fail, and then all of a sudden that thing happened? What was that again? What are the details?” Again, we want them to have these stories down cold so that they can tell their kids during their times of really celebrating. So I love this idea, Jeff. What does it stir for you?

Jeff:
Yeah, I would say one, encouragement, two, I would tell people is like, “When you die, are the stories going to be remembered?” If you want to tell multigenerational stories, you have to write it down. It’s that simple. Right?

Jeremy:
Yeah.

Jeff:
And I think have an active cadence of writing your story down, reflecting on it, putting it in journals, maybe even going so far when you’re older as putting it in some type of kind of more pretty form of a book or something so that your family can have it. And maybe it’s a video, maybe it’s some type of notes, maybe it’s audio, maybe it’s you talking. How cool would that be if you talk into a recorder for 50 years and then all of a sudden, your family gets those audio files? Imagine right now if you had audio snippets of your grandparents talking from 40 years ago, of just telling stories and reflecting on the family and reflecting on God’s goodness.

I think we see that in scriptures. The reason we’re able to read the scriptures is because there was faithful generations who wrote it down and then passed it down. First it was oral, but then wrote it down after that. And man, we have these testimonies of God’s grace because there was a faithful telling of the story and capturing of the story, and so I love all that. In these holidays, in these seasons, in these moments, make little efforts. It doesn’t take huge to capture them, to make them systematic, to think about them, to write them down.

And then like Jeremy said, keep retelling them because then you also, I think one of those ways you actually capture them is by retelling the same one so that they’re memorized in the next generation.

Jeremy:
Yeah.

Jeff:
If you just tell it once it’s not. And so that actually is one way of metaphorically writing it down is making it almost an oral tradition that’s so memorized and known. And so that’s what we would say is, think about that today and what would that look like for your family?

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