From Generation to Generation
by Geoff King
It was a hot and humid late-summer evening back in the year 2000. There I was, hanging outside of the youth group room with some friends, caring much more about joking around and being in the “in” crowd than anything being discussed in our huddle groups. Personally, I was still reeling from the pending separation of my parents, balancing my perceived identity (a care-free, trouble-seeking, budding athlete) and my secretive true character (a high-care, naturally quiet and studious person) in my school context, while also learning how Christ “fit” into everything going on around me.
Frankly, I was in the middle of a teenage mess, seemingly all alone, trying to figure it out in my own head. Yet, somehow, this older youth worker that I’d never spoken to before knew all about it.
As I stood minding my business, this gentleman came up to me and said, “Hey Geoff, I’m Herm and I’ve been praying for you.”
Now, in the moment my 15-year-old self was thinking two things, “How does he know my name, and why is this old dude praying for me?”
What I came to realize is that my mom knew mostly everything I was dealing with – as some mothers have the innate ability to – and had been praying earnestly for me. In her prayer efforts, she began to share with others what she discerned were my needs, troubles, and hang-ups and in her sharing, word had got around to Herm. In response Herm found me, and took relational action that led to a seed of change.
Who would have known that this man in his 60’s – whom I thought was 80 at the time (sorry Herm!) – would make an impact on my life in the way that he did and has, with so many generations between us? I most certainly did not. However, as I matured and grew closer to him, I came to realize that there was so much life he had lived in advance of my very own and there many steps in the pilgrimage of faith he had walked, discerned, persevered, and endured through, that I could glean from. To this day – although we are decades apart – he has remained a constant encourager in my life, pointing me to the gospel and cheering me on as I pursue The Father. In addition, a sweet part of our story is that as I have aged and matured in the faith, The Lord has used me to encourage, shape, and sharpen him, as well.
The story of myself and Herm, is part of the story that God has predestined for His beloved.
From the time He established us, God’s heart has always been for the generations. He has yearned for not only His Word and Truth to be known from generation to generation, and for each generation to know Him, but also, for the generations to be united together – shepherding, sharpening, and discipling one another – in the faith.
This should come as no surprise to those of us who believe in the One true God, I mean think about it: He is the Lord of history, the Ancient of Days who by His very Word reveals that He is weaving together the stories of individuals, generations and nations into His eternal purpose.
Think about it- how quick are you (and me!) to look at a generation above you or below you and say something like, “Ugh those (fill in the blank of generation) just don’t get it” Or, “If someone would just them how it is…”? It probably happens often! Most of the times, those comments come in the context of cultural disconnections – i.e. things happening in the world around us, like how we process, receive, ideate, etc. across generational lines.
But, what about in the context of the gospel?
In God’s charge to Abram in Genesis 17 (where He shares, he will no longer be Abram but Abraham), He begins to communicate Himself as God of the generations by saying to Abram, “I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
Here, God is direct in His generational charge – I am making you fruitful Abram, and from generation to generation I will be the God of the people.
The beautiful thing about this is that God – in all of His majesty – could have simply revealed Himself to each generation individually without us, but instead, He decided to invite man into partnership with Him so that we might share in sharing the gospel. Thus, there is a role we play in all of this. For the body to be truly one as The Father, Son and Spirit; moving and working in all its Spirit infused parts, we must have eyes for the generations. Why? Because we are all a part of God’s eternal story, raised-up and gifted in this season for good works across the generations, not only for this generation but those yet to come.
Because we are all a part of God’s eternal story, raised-up and gifted in this season for good works across the generations, not only for this generation but those yet to come.
A great topic to pursue! Our seasoned, mature believers have so much to impart to the younger among us - if both are willing to participate. I hope we are. Great encouragement!
Thanks for sharing your experience Geoff! I just talked to our youth about this after teaching about the beginning of the church of Philipi and how diverse they were. Our church’s mature men and women who love the LORD have much to offer any generation. This is what the Body is about, loving the diverse, even in age.
Thanks Amy! Thanks to you (and Brad) for your ongoing commitment to shepherd, teach and disciple our younger generations and teens. You all are an example of what you wrote - mature in the Lord, giving back to The Body.