Recently I was holding my five-year-old in the midst of a dynamic worship service. The powerful stirrings of the Holy Spirit could literally be felt throughout the room. Some were on their face and others were fervently crying out to God. In my own body, it felt like "electricity" was shooting through my bloodstream. Everything was so invigorating and vibrant.
Then, as things began to subside, I asked my son, "Could you feel the wonderful presence of God?" A sheepish look came on his face. He turned away and finally muttered, "No, daddy....I didn't feel anything."
I must admit, It was disappointing. That certainly wasn't the response I'd hoped for. Since God was moving so dynamically, I naturally assumed that my son was having the same encounter I was. From my point of view, the glory was readily evident, but somehow my son didn't experience it.
In that moment, I was reminded of something I heard years ago: "God doesn't have any grandchildren."
It doesn't matter who a person is or what background they come from, no one can enter the kingdom indirectly. If God's not their Father, they're not in the family. The Lord's glory certainly can't be carried by "well-wishers" and "guests" standing along the periphery. This role is reserved for sons and daughters.
In many ways, this brings up questions of transmission and continuation. Spiritual awakening should go beyond a single generation, but it rarely does. One group will walk in revival, but their children, who have been "in" and "around" the glory, won't experience the same outworking. This can truly be difficult.
Generational Transference In The Bible
The immense challenges of passing "revival" on to the next generation isn't just a recent struggle. There are also examples of it transpiring in the Bible. Though the Lord would reveal His word, and tell them to "teach the truths diligently to your children" (Deut. 6:7a), things didn't always work out as expected.
One sees that, after the deaths of Joshua and his closest elders, the nation of Israel had to wrestle with a lack of transference.
"Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the deeds that the Lord had done for Israel" (Josh. 24:31).
As long as those who encountered the presence of the Lord remained at the helm of leadership, all of Israel endeavored to serve God. Breakdown took place later as leaders emerged who didn't know God's glory.
Tragically there was a similar crisis during the era of the Judges. After those who truly encountered the Lord passed from the scene, many of their children didn't follow in their footsteps. Scripture declares,
"That entire generation passed away, and after them grew up a generation who did not know the Lord or the deeds that He had done for Israel" (Judg. 2:10).
This was a disastrous crisis in the past and it continues to plague families in the 21st century. God moves in the hearts of men and women, intending to impact the whole lineage. Yet, something goes wrong along the way. We forget that everyone has to have a personal encounter. If we don't help our children discover God for themselves, they may not choose to walk in the ways of righteousness.
God doesn't have any grandchildren—only sons and daughters.
What We Must Do
If we're going to counteract this tendency, then our tactics must be changed. Each of us must be willing to do things that past generations were unwilling to do. Mothers and fathers must be willing to transcend our "religious sensibilities" and reveal the true heart of the Father. We must enable our children to encounter God and comprehend Him on their own terms.
Below are three ways that we can begin doing this:
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