In his later years, the Apostle Paul began turning over his leadership role to a new generation of leaders. One of these new leaders was a man named Timothy. We find in Scripture that Timothy was very gifted and held a very deep faith.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he recalls how Timothy came to this mature faith: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you” (II Timothy 1:5).
This past weekend Ann and I drove to Winona, Mn., to visit Andy and Steph, and meet Wesley, our newest grandchild. It was an awesome experience to hold him. During one of my extended “holding” sessions I contemplated the reality that by the time Wesley graduates High School, I will be almost eighty years old (God willing). That’s when it dawned on me that Wesley (and our other grandchild, Ellie) truly are the “next” generation in our family.
I remember a powerful moment that took place at Yellowstone at the close of a worship service. We had a baptism that day and the mother and father of the newly baptized child came to the back to shake hands with everyone. One of the people in church that day was Lenora Bredeson. By this time, she was slowing down, and she was facing memory loss issues. After shaking hands with me, she turned all her attention to the baby. After cooing a few times and gently touching the child’s small hands, she looked up and said to me, “This one is going to take my place.” Then, with a huge smile of satisfaction, she congratulated the parents and walked out of the church.
What a wonderful way of seeing life; to know that both within our personal families and our larger church families; someone is going to take our place, and because of that the family line will continue, and so will Jesus’ church.
Embracing the next generation is a good thing and well worth celebrating. Yes, there is going to be a “next” generation. Yes, life goes on, and with gusto, even when some of us are slowing down.
But that doesn’t mean that we, older ones, don’t still have a vital role to play. Like in Timothy’s life, I too was blessed with Grandparents that had deep spiritual lives and they did pass that faith on to me in so many glorious ways. For us older ones, that is our role today – to pass on our faith. For we are the ones who have gone through trials and tribulations. We are the one’s who have celebrated great moments and deeply mourned tragedy, and in each case we found Jesus standing by us. By virtue of our faith journeys, we are the ones who can communicate to the “next” generation just how wonderful having Jesus in our lives is.
Yes, it is great to know that there is a “next” generation, but that doesn’t mean “this” generation is done working – oh, no, we have a very important role yet to play. May God bless us in our ministry.