Psalm 78 provides instruction about raising teenagers with soft, passionate hearts towards God. The Psalmist begins with a challenge to remember the lessons of the past, the lessons of ancient and recent church history. He wants God’s people to vividly remember the great deeds of God in redemptive history. Then, the Psalmist makes a pledge that children will hear of the great actions of God:
We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
Note the emphatic language – “We will not hide these truths from our children.”
The first step towards raising teenagers with Josiah’s soft heart is to accept the Psalmist’s challenge to boldly pass the glorious actions of the Lord. You do this by intimately knowing the rich biblical narratives that tell of the faithfulness of God to his people. Do not merely repeat the often watered-down Sunday School versions of the biblical stories. Learn the context of the great stories of faith presented in Scripture. Are you filled with wonder and awe at how God, throughout the Bible, rescued his people as they trusted him in faith? If not, you will not be able to engage in the softening of the hard hearts your children. The biblical narratives don’t speak of human super-heroes who were almost flawless in living their faith. The Bible speaks of flawed people, just like you and me, who at critical moments lived by faith because they loved God.
Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Jehoshaphat all had obvious lapses of faith, but still lived lives that must be retold to our children. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Deborah, Josiah, and Ruth lived in faith so that we could follow their example. Their stories are thrilling and filled with drama. We must not hide these redemptive thrillers from our children! Your children will learn from their failures and be encouraged by their stunning victories. Can you, parent, give a passionate retelling of the lives mentioned in this paragraph? Do their stories fill you with excitement and a desire to emulate their faith? When you struggle do these faithful ones make their way into your life’s narrative to bring you comfort and give you hope? If the answer is no, you have not taken advantage of resources the Holy Spirit has provided for you. Because you do not know these stories intimately you are not fully acquainted with these brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, your ability to withstand the attacks of the vicious enemy of your soul is greatly diminished. As Paul says:
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
So this is the vital first step that will bring the courage of Josiah to your teenagers. Your heart must be overcome with the power of these stories. These stories must become your story.
There is more to say, but we must start here if our children are to be soft-hearted towards God. Again, I heartily commend the practical and accessible commentaries of Dale Ralph Davis to you.
If you have questions or thoughts, please let me know.