I want you to imagine a scene with me. In this scene older adults sit down with their family. Splayed out around them are their kids, grandkids, and maybe even great-grandkids. The older adult then starts telling the family history. They include the familiar stories, and they tell ones never heard.
What I am describing is a fairly common scenario. Maybe you have that one grandparent that loves to tell stories. In our family it is my father-in-law. He is a story teller, and he loves to talk about the pranks he pulled in college and when he and my mother-in-law were missionaries in Africa for 6 months and he shot big game.
The scenario of an older adult telling family stories tends to focus on “when I grew up in the Depression” or “When I fought in the war”. But how often do the stories tell the personal details of family failure? Would a grandparent talk with their grandkids about how the grandparent really messed up, or how the grandkids’ parents really messed up?
Would they tell the good, the bad and the ugly?
We are very used to the public airing of dirty laundry of celebrities or politicians. But not so much of our own. We really appreciate our privacy. It can be hard for us to hear the bad things. At funerals we rarely talk about the person who passed in a negative light. You get the idea that they were perfect and amazing. But the family knows the true story. The person who passed, like us all, had their faults.
Too often we just hide our faults, and we don’t talk about our mistakes.
What if older adults did broke with tradition? What if we made a practice of reviewing the good, the bad and the ugly with our families? What if we review the way of the Lord with our families?
At Faith Church this past Sunday, we started a sermon series through an Old Testament book that is just like that.
In the book of Deuteronomy, for the most part, Moses is sitting down with the nation of Israel to review what they have gone through. The good, the bad, the ugly. As we study Deuteronomy, we get to hear wisdom from Moses, as he reviews the work of God, and the Law of God, with the people of Israel. We’ll hear a very courageous and shocking group of stories from Moses. When the people totally screwed up, he reminds them of it. He doesn’t excuse himself either. And he doesn’t excuse God. There are some stories where Moses tells about his own failures, and there are some things he says about God that will leave us scratching our heads. These are not the tidy stories we’re accustomed to hearing.
So what about you? Who can you tell stories to? Has God given you kids or grandkids? Maybe employees? Maybe someone that you are seeking to invest in? How can you sit down with them and have a fireside chat like Moses? Tell the the good, for sure, but will you also tell them the bad, the ugly? As Moses does with the Israelites, we can do with those God has placed in our lives. The Israelites needed to hear the truth. The whole truth. The needed the real picture of what got their people to this point. Our families and friends need the same from us. Who can you can tell the truth to?