Tell Stories Like Life Depends on It
The specific, nitty-gritty, sometimes disgusting, sometimes beautiful things that God has done really matter. We're saved by faith alone, but faith needs facts. We need to believe in something particular and concrete.
After Joshua and all his contemporaries died, we are told that "there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord" (Judges 2:10-11).
They didn't know God, and this led them into sin. They didn't know God because they hadn't learned about the things he had done for them in the past. Their parents neglected to tell them the stories.
They didn't know that God chose Abraham to be the father of his chosen people, and he gave him Isaac. Isaac had two sons--Jacob and Esau. Esau was given the hill country, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt. Later, they were enslaved, but God led them out of Egypt and saved them by drowning the Egyptians in the Red Sea.
These are simple stories--nothing convoluted or arcane. But forgetting them was the downfall of Israel over and over again.
Why? What difference do the stories make?
The stories--the facts--give shape to the one we ought to worship. What God does shows who he is. So when these Israelites began to forget the details, God began to seem like all the other options that were out there to worship. And "they whored after other gods and bowed down to them" (Judges 2:22).
There are, of course, many other ways to protect ourselves and our kids from forsaking the truth, but this one is so simple and essential that it would be foolish to neglect it: tell your kids stories. Know the facts and then pass them on—it will help them be saved.
It matters that God created the heavens and the earth; that man sinned and now deserves hell; that Christ came and died; and that if we believe in him we will be saved.
It also matters that Enoch didn't die, but was taken up by the Lord when he was 365 years old; that Jael hammered a tent peg through the skull of Sisera; that Elijah was fed by ravens next to a brook before he went to Zarephath and raised a widow's son from the dead; that Isaiah had to walk naked for three years as a sign against Egypt and Cush; that Hosea married a prostitute named Gomer; that Peter cut Malchus’s ear off; and that Paul escaped from Damascus through a window down a wall in a basket.
Clearly some biblical facts matter less than others, but let's not discard any of them. My two-year-old's favorite stories right now are David killing Goliath, Jesus dying on the cross, and "King Saul pooping in dark cave" (1 Samuel 24:3)--his words, not mine. Obviously there is a hierarchy of importance here that he doesn't understand, but that will work itself out over time. My job right now is to tell him the things the Lord has done. I don’t want my wife and me to be among the parents of a generation who forgets!
The stories in the Bible--from the least important to the most important--show us who God is. The less our kids know about this book, the easier it will be for them to ignore God, because they won't recognize him. And the more they know about it, the more likely they will walk with him, because they will have seen the great things that a God like him can do.