Have you ever smelled a fragrance that instantaneously took you back to a time and place? Perhaps, as you drove by a landmark, for a split second, your mind became flooded with memories of the people you saw, things you did, and the special moments you had. I have. They’re powerful.
For me, one short and simple worship song stirs up my emotion and causes my mind and heart to remember God and His goodness afresh. It is called “God is so good.” It will probably live in my heart until the day I die.
I grew up singing this song (in Korean) as a young girl every morning as part of our daily family devotional time. You can call it the Lee family anthem. Even after thirty plus years, this anthem rings out wherever the Lee clan meets together — all twenty-three of us.
This song represents the bedrock confession of the Lee family: God is so good.
Whether life was sailing smoothly or life was not so good, our declaration that “God is so good” set our hearts in the right direction. Even on the days that God didn’t seem so good, this habit, discipline, and tradition reminded us to live in trust and in submission to God. We need this constant reminder. The very survival of our soul depend on the consistent feeding of this truth.
With my parents and my siblings
From Hiding to Telling:
In Psalm 78, the Psalmist exhorts Israel to not hide from their children the things that they have heard and known, but to tell the coming generations of the glorious works and wonders of God. Whether in the form of a poetry, a song, or a narrative, the people of Israel are exhorted to pass on God stories in the history of the Israelites to the next generation.
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me is their stories of God in their (our) lives. I can recount so many ways that my father used stories and analogies to instruct me as a child. His intentional choice to repeat the stories of God’s love and redemption in his life, and in the life of our family, have been instrumental in growing my love for Jesus. Unless you intentionally tell of God’s amazing work, your children will not know how God has been good to you and to them.
The Psalmist declares,
I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us, we will not hide from their children,
but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalm 78: )
God stories that might seem outdated and old (possibly dating back to previous generations), that you think your children might not find it interesting, take a risk and tell them to your children. You might be pleasantly surprised. Your God stories are not meant to be kept hidden in your heart and in your journals, but to be told and retold. Be intentional about sharing them. Let their faith be strengthened through your telling.
Examples of Stories I Tell:
These are God stories that I often tell our kids partly because they love to hear about them as they are personal. Sometimes I just refer to them and highlight a certain part of the story to reiterate a point I am making. This is not an exhaustive list, but they are a few of my and our kids’ favorites.
- Our calling and move to India for six years and the promise I received from God
- Answers to prayers and what they taught me about God
- Our kids’ birth stories and how God took care of us through infertility, scary birth, and NICU stays
- Growing up poor yet learning to be rich in God
- What God saved my family from — of my parents conversion story to my youngest brother’s healing
There are many more stories that are on the shelf for later time as they continue to grow and mature. My husband has his set of stories that are quite different from mine. I love how it demonstrates how God uses our different circumstances and upbringings to reveal Himself to us in various ways.
Stories Bring Connection and Meaning to the Instructions
Moses instructs the parents to tell stories to explain and give meaning to their way of life.
Deuteronomy 6:20-21 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”
Exodus 12:25-27 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord‘s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
This is a great reminder to Christian parents to provide meaning to the ways we live by telling life stories that have shaped our Biblical values. Children will learn more faith from actual stories from people they know. Stories from the Bible and repeating the truths of God are important, but stories of how God did those things in your life help move those concepts into real faith. Tell those stories again and again. They are important stories for you, shaping your life. It is important that your kids know them.
Whenever you have an opportunity to share your God stories, each time they show interest and ask, tell them. Let your stories begin the process of forming their identity. Guide them in seeing their purpose and God’s purpose for their lives in this world.
The God stories in our lives bring life to the Bible stories that our kids have been taught. The connection they make between the Bible stories and my family’s stories cultivate faith and love for Jesus and His purposes.
Take an evening this week to lie next to your children, tell one God story in your life and help them make the connection from a Bible truth. One of my favorite times to do this is when I am driving. We have some of our best teaching moments and conversations in the car. Initiate with your children. Your children will not reject your initiation to tell them a story. You will be shaping their identity and purpose through the gift of your God stories.
Use your time in the car with your kids to tell God stories
Retell and Repeat Your God Stories and God Songs:
Have you noticed how much your kids (especially young ones) love repetition? The more they love something, the more they want repeated (to the point we declare, I can’t listen to this song one more time!).
Don’t get trapped in “I don’t have very many new God stories in my life that would keep them interested every time.” Instead, use your favorite and most profound God stories in your life again and again to demonstrate a principle or a teaching. My favorite moments are when our kids can share my story as if they’re their stories, add details that I might have forgotten, and correct me as I tell it again.
Think through some of your favorite God stories in your life and repeat and retell them many times. The truth is that they forget so easily. Choose a few worship songs that you love as a family and sing and remember them over and over again. The truths in those words will live in their hearts through repetition.
One of My Favorite Stories from Childhood, Retold Again
When I was little, I loved listening to my father recount the story of when God spoke to him in prayer concerning his four children. We had just immigrated to the U.S. and my father was worried that he would not be able to sufficiently provide for his family working as a janitor. In his prayer time, the Lord spoke to him. He shared,
“Can I ask you a question?” The Lord asked me.
“Yes,” I replied.
Then the Lord asked me a question again. He asked, ‘Who gave you these four children?’
I answered, ‘You did Lord. You gave them to me.’
He answered, ‘If I gave them to you, will I not take care of them?’
This God encounter set the foundation for how they would trust God with their most precious gifts–their children. The power of this story lies in the fact that I can testify to the truth that God took care of my three siblings and me. He kept His promise.
This story has been foundational for me as I became a mom. I go back to this story often to remind myself of this basic truth: God Himself will take care of our children because He gave them to us! What an amazing promise! This Biblical truth frees me to pursue after God and His purposes for me and my family.
What is the lasting fruit that comes from intentional instruction of our children (and the generations after them)? Why is it worth the intentional effort to remember and tell of God’s mighty work in our lives?
Our children will set their hope in God.
The next generation will not forget the works of God.
Through out the generations, they will keep His commandments.