Saturday, December 29, 2012

The next generation - A Year in Review

Legacy:  Anything handed down from the past; something handed down from one period of time to another period of time.  Legacy can be some "thing" such as property; but most importantly, it can be what an individual passes down to the next generation.  There are both good and bad legacies.  Sometimes people call the good legacy an inheritance.  They often call a bad legacy a curse.  

Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10 MSG)

Eventually...the word which describes the obvious, doesn't it?  We all die - none is immune to the pull of the aging of the body and wearing out of the parts.  The point between birth and death is what determines what we leave when we depart this earth.  It isn't what we leave in a will to the next generation, but what we leave in their heart which really matters.  Yet, it amazes me how much we focus on the "stuff" we leave to another instead of the real legacy they need to actually do well in their lifetimes.

Our passage today seems a little morose, but let me take a moment to "unpack" it a little for you.  Joshua lived to the age of 110.  If you don't know anything about Joshua, you might not see the significance of his death.  Moses recruited a few spies to go into Canaan when Israel was crossing through the wilderness as they were coming out of their bondage in Israel.  Joshua was one of those original spies.  He went boldly into the land of giants, seeing what God had promised to the people - a land flowing with all they needed for life!  This is the beginning of the story of Joshua's heritage - he was a faithful witness of the truth of God's possibilities in the midst of what others thought was impossible.  Throughout his life, he stood alongside Moses as the right hand to Moses.  When Moses passed, Joshua assumed the leadership role in Israel.  He ruled well, taking the people into their inheritance - allotting each of the twelve tribes their portion of the land and helping to get them settled.

He lived well, did he not?  He was there leading the people around the impenetrable walls of Jericho, urging them to obedience before God.  He wasn't afraid to ask God for the impossible - asking God for time to "stand still" as he fought an alliance of Amorite kings in the land of Gibeon.  In fact, God took his request so literally as to make the sun stand still - giving Israel the ability to defeat the kings and their armies.  In fact, not only did the sun stand still, but hailstones big enough to kill the Amorite armies were also added to the mix.  His greatest legacy was his constant dedication to the God of his forefathers - Jehovah.  He stood many times before the assembly of Israel, urging them to live well in the presence of their great God.  To do so, they were to remain loyal to the things God taught - especially the "rule" about having no other god before HIM.  Yes, he left a legacy, indeed.

Now, as we see our passage unfolding, Joshua has died and the generation after him has now also lived out their life.  The sad statement above comes after not only Joshua had passed, but those who were the recipients of his "legacy".  The problem - it does not appear any were as concerned with the legacy they'd pass on as was Joshua!  You see, the statement, "...another generation grew up that didn’t know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel" says it all.  Another generation - one who did not have a faithful witness to the possibilities of what God could do when given his rightful place in their lives - grew up.  But...they grew up without their God at the center of their lives, leaving them devoid of the very thing they needed.

I have to take a moment to pause at the end of this year to ask some tough questions, not only of myself, but I am encouraging you to consider them, as well.  What legacy will we leave?  When others look upon our lives, do they see the possibilities of the God of the Universe in the midst of the impossibilities of our circumstances?  Do they hear clearly the message of hope and love which only God can speak through the human heart?  Is there an urgency in our message - a challenge to remain holy, to rise above, and to seek God with all we are?  This is our legacy - to be the light of the world in a time of darkness.  This is our heritage - to pass on the light!  

Wouldn't it be a sad state of affairs to discover that our next generation knows nothing about God because we were too afraid to speak up, to intimidated to live the example we are called to live, or too focused on other things to really see the value of passing on the hope we've been given?  It is a usual "custom" to look back over the year that has passed, seeing what has been accomplished.  We publish books - "A Year in Review" - accounting for both the good and the ugly of our year.  I wonder who among us has the passion and purpose of standing before God, in the midst of the battle, to request his intervention?  Maybe it will be me - perhaps it will be you.  Either way, it takes us realizing the potential we have of keeping the "next generation" from losing the connection with God!  Just sayin!