After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10 NLT
“The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.” Neither is my family.
When I thought about my family, I thought about the lyrics to the old song my grandfather once sang. My family has a rich religious heritage. Not just one where they legalistically attended church, prayed, read their Bibles, and strictly adhered to God’s principles and commands, but one where they did those things because they thought they were right and because they wanted to.
My grandparents never missed church unless they were sick. Having company wasn’t an excuse. They’d take the company to church with them. And rarely did they take vacations. They read their Bibles and prayed consistently. They honored Sunday as their “Sabbath,” and rested as a part of their worship.
My parents repeated the lifestyle of my grandparents and great grandparents. Over time, though, they loosened the tightly wound religious strings my ancestors strung. But not much. Just a little. Daddy would miss going to church on a Sunday if we were on vacation.
I noticed a little legalism in the why behind the practices, so when I raised my children, I did things a little differently. Missing church occasionally for vacations and other reasons was permissible. If I accidentally forgot to read my Bible or fell asleep while praying, I didn’t beat myself up. Still, in most ways, I repeated the ways of my forefathers.
Then my children grew up and had children—and the drift became more apparent. Going to church every Sunday—or any Sunday—wasn’t a priority. Any reason to miss would do. The same with the other spiritual disciplines like Bible reading and praying. Sporadic. Sometimes non-existent. Drift. I now wonder what my grandchildren’s families will look like.
The nation of Israel experienced generational drift. The generation after Joshua grew up not knowing or following the Lord. Somewhere along the way, a link in the spiritual chain broke.
God gives parents—and grandparents—the responsibility to train their descendants in His ways. When we don’t, generational (spiritual) drift happens. In some cases, it happens even when we obey. Godly parents don’t always produce godly children. And sometimes ungodly parents do.
As guardians of our children and grandchildren, we should train, exemplify, and educate them in God’s ways. We should also warn them about the dangers of neglecting God and going their own way. When we train them in the ways of God, the chances are greater that they’ll choose to follow Him.
What are you doing to prevent generational drift in your family?
Prayer: Father, remind us of our responsibility to prevent generational drift.
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