Passing On The Faith
By Jill Briscoe
Stuart and I were at The Cove several months ago, the beautiful Billy Graham retreat center in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. There are fabulous views all around the lodges nestled among the trees. On each deck surrounding the halls and meeting rooms there are rocking chairs. We were there to speak to the seniors – over 450 of them.
“I love ministering to them,” I remarked to Stuart after the first day.
“‘Them’ is us, Jill!” he replied.
“Oh, I suppose,” I answered.
I never think much of my senior status. I used to have birthdays, but gave them up for Lent a while ago! But I had to admit the rocking chairs looked very inviting indeed!
During the three-day conference it was hard to find a rocker unoccupied. I watched the grandmas and grandpas rocking away, and joined them whenever I got a chance. Think about it: all those hundreds of rocking grandmas and grandpas.
We found out during the week that the seniors felt marginalized by their churches and frightened by world events. They told us they felt somewhat helpless to influence their children and grandchildren. They seemed to be rocking their way to heaven to the sad rhythm of irrelevance.
We talked and prayed, and I taught from Prov. 31:1-9. This is a bit of priceless Scripture written by a son sharing the advice his mother gave him. The idea of one of your children or grandchildren writing a book about your advice may seem a world away, but this young king did this and talks about three things: 1.) His mother prayed for him, 2.) His mother loved him, and 3.) His mother taught him her faith and values.
The word “taught” has very strong meaning. She didn’t suggest, or talk around the subject, or apparently only offer her opinion if asked. She made sure her boy knew exactly the way a king was meant to behave! “It’s not for kings, Oh Lemuel ? not for kings,” she says, and proceeds to tell young Lemuel what kings should and shouldn’t be doing.
Her impact was such that King Lemuel’s report on his mother’s “oracle” (or burden) found its way into the bestseller of all time and for all ages! I happen to believe Holy Writ is truth for all time, for all ages ? like for you and me and our kids in the 21st century. We had a wonderful time at The Cove, “them and us,” and we left ready to go and get on with the job of passing on our faith to the next generation.
The next week I kept tripping over seniors in Scripture every time I opened my Bible. Those of you who have parents, make sure they are in a church that appreciates their age, wisdom, and giftedness, and is putting it to use. Those of you who are “them,” be encouraged. Simeon and Anna were still going strong when they were well up there, these old folks talking about Jesus to all who came to the temple and all who were in Jerusalem. Moses was called for his life’s work in his 80s, and Caleb was also 80 years old when he asked Joshua (also in his 80s and still leading Israel) to, “Give me this mountain.” There are a lot more mountains to take for God before we are through! Encourage the seniors in your church and pull them in – they have vital wisdom that is needed for the next generation of the church!