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Recount the deeds of the Lord

March 1, 2012 3 Comments

by Peggy Pedersen

Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).

There has been a lot of attention paid recently to journaling, recording family history, and scrapbooking of memories. But I want to suggest that there is something far more important than these memoirs to pass on to your children and grandchildren. I want to suggest that the most important thing you can do for your children is to recount to them the deeds of the Lord in your life—His care for you, His faithfulness, His deliverance, the times when you were in distress and He comforted you, strengthened you, and showed Himself to be your rock, refuge, and deliverer.

How easily these things are forgotten once a crisis has passed. If we don’t take the time to tell our children, they will never know of them—especially if these events happen when they are young or before they are born. But hearing these things will build them up in their faith and make them aware of the very personal care God has taken of their own family through the years and generations. These are true treasures you can leave them.

How many of us tell and retell these events to our children and grandchildren?

God directed Israel not to forget what He had done for them, but to remember them in yearly observances like Passover and the Feast of Booths. Likewise, Jesus directs us to remember Him whenever we gather to receive Him in the Eucharist. Each of these observances focus on recounting God’s merciful deliverance.

But we have all experienced His mercy in our own lives as well. How many of us tell and retell these events to our children and grandchildren? As we teach our children God’s Word and bring them up in the faith, we should also inform them of our own joy and praise for what He has done for us, in giving us faith and salvation, and in His daily care for us.

In Isaiah, we are counselled to teach our children the praise of God: “The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today; fathers tell their children about your faithfulness” (Isaiah 38:19).

When I was three, I was saved from injury and death in a horrible head-on crash with a tractor-trailer, receiving only a tiny scratch on my forehead. My father was so severely injured they wanted to amputate his leg, but—by God’s grace—it was saved. This story was recounted to me while I was a child, but although my parents were Christian it was not recounted as a story of God’s mercy and grace. My father was also in a unit in World War I that shipped out immediately after his discharge. His entire unit was killed in the first battle. Because he was spared, I live.

Our hearts should spill over with gratitude

But the grace of God is not to be found in events of physical salvation alone. Some of the greatest mercies are found in times of grief, suffering, or tragedy when only God’s sustaining love can bring consolation and healing. It is found in the patience and forgiveness He offers when we stray. I glorify Him for His unmerited mercy in bringing me back to faith and forgiving my years spent denying Him and serving false gods. He saved me for His name’s sake; may His name be praised for it. It’s a story I recount to my family even though they do not now appreciate it.

Our hearts should spill over with gratitude—even more than do proud parents who cannot help but tell everyone of their child’s wondrous activities—and we ought to be unable to restrain our lips from praising Jesus and telling of His wonderful deeds to our children. We should talk of them when we are sitting in our houses, when we are walking by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).

Our children need to know that in all things we trust God’s goodness and love. When the Lord gives and when the Lord takes away, they need to see us bless His name and trust Him. In this way, they will grow up to know the Lord as a living presence among us, a God who is near and not far off, who is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).

The Psalm writer puts it well: “Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wondrous works!” (Psalm 105: 1-2).

Peggy Pedersen is a writer in Victoria, B.C. where she is a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church.

  • Guest

    I am honestly confused why this post is in a Lutheran Magazine.  Nothing in here is inherently of the pure doctrine.  It could easily be found in any evangelical magazine, or even those of non-Christian origin who do not acknowledge our Triune God, but a god, a lord.  Furthermore, the chief teaching of the church, and by extension to the families of its members is the Gospel, the message of Jesus Christ come for us, died for us, saving us.  

    The instruction of this article, primarily phrased in law speak, falls perhaps under the 1st table of the Commandments, the 1st article of the Creed, 4th and 7th petition of the Lord’s Prayer, but the message of the Good News, the whole of our doctrine is much, much more.  And it seems that a large part of this focuses on us, not the cross.  Arguably, I believe it is safe to say that “the most important thing you can do for your children” is to catechize them, beginning with the small catechism, moving to the Large Catechism, and then beyond to the Augsburg Confession and the rest of our Confessions.  

    Finally, the building up a child’s faith will not come through telling him or her stories about you and your trust in how God cared for you. Faith comes from hearing of the Living Word, given by the Holy Spirit, and receiving the Living Word on and in our bodies through the Sacraments.  

    • Peggy

      Dear Guest, I am sorry that you read the article that way, for that was not my intention nor my belief. When does the action of the Gospel in our lives become law? — As soon as we tell anyone about it?  Jesus told the cured demoniac to go back to his town and tell everyone what the Lord had done for him. This naturally flows from our gratitude to Him. How does pointing our children to the Cross and our Saviour point to us? Nowhere did I say to brag about our faith, our trust, but rather His faithfulness, His mercy. You say the most important thing we can do for our children is to catechize them, but isn’t this part of catechizing them? They need not only to receive pure doctrine but to see how it has become living grace in our own lives – not by our doing, but by His. This is only an extension of what, in part, the Bible does – recount God’s actions in history. It means that we communicate that God is still working in His church and in the lives of His people.  This is simply saying: “I was lost, and He found me. I was blind, and He opened my eyes. I was without help, and He helped me. When all was dark, He brought light. When I was faithless, He was faithful.”  I do not see how this could be said of any other “god” or “lord.” For all other “helpers” will fail. He, alone, hears, saves, defends and redeems. 

  • Carlos Frederico Lange

    I will have to disagree with the anonymous guest, who faults Peggy for not fitting a complete Law+Gospel teaching, and uniquely Lutheran at that, in a short, single-issue article. Indeed, the point she raises could be (and perhaps should be) written in any Christian magazine.

    She writes a call to witness, based on one of my favourite texts, Deut. 11:18-19, and she clearly focuses on the third use of the Law, as a guide for us redeemed Christians. It may not be “the most important thing you can do for your children”, but her reminder is a very contemporary one. In this age of Facebook and Google+ many of us share very personal aspects of our lives online, but how many share the deeds of the Lord in our lives? I was fortunate to be brought up by faith filled parents, who told me about how God was faithful to them in trying times, and merciful in stray times. These concrete examples and seeing “the outcome of their way of life”, help me today to imitate their faith. I wish that to every son and daughter. And through this magazine and through the new media, we can recount the deeds of the Lord to even more Christians. I thank Peggy for this timely reminder.