More Than a Story

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord . . .  Judges 2:10-11

I grew up hearing Bible stories. My Sunday school teachers would thrill me with tales of David’s bravery as he faced a giant with only a sling and a stone, or three heroes’ miraculous walk through a fiery furnace. I even had a series of storybooks highlighting biblical adventures, and I loved to read about Daniel and the lions or Joseph and his colorful coat.

As a child, I loved the stories. But as I grew, I began to wonder if that was all they were.

Do you ever wrestle with believing the truth of God’s Word? Do your children know that Jesus is more than a fairytale?

Several years ago I was preparing dinner when my son burst through the door in tears. My eldest reported in anger that his younger brother had just pelted him in the head with a rock.

I guess frustration over consistently feeling inferior had finally taken its toll.

I called him into the house and sent him to his room to consider what had just happened while I finished my task. Then I climbed the stairs to find him on his bed, a tearful mixture of defiance and regret.

He told me he had just been so angry, he picked up the rock and threw it at his brother in a rage. He knew it was wrong, but he just couldn't help it. And he was sorry.

I could see his remorse and I told him I had forgiven him. Then I advised him to ask his brother's forgiveness as well as the Lord's. He took my hands and prayed with me on that bed. I'll never forget what he said.

You see, I expected him to simply bow his head and ask God to forgive him for hurting his brother by throwing the rock. Instead he confessed that he had a problem with anger and asked God to help him with it. His next words caught in my throat and stung my eyes with tears.

"I believe that you can help me with it because my dad had a problem with anger and he prayed to You to help him and You did, so I believe You can help me too."

My 8-year-old son had faith in a redeeming God because he had witnessed firsthand the power of His redemption. He had seen God temper a short fuse that could explode into harsh words, transforming it to increasing patience and gentle replies. He had felt the love of God flowing through to him in the form of a changed father. He had experienced firsthand the transforming power of resurrection life.

So he believed.

And that faith moved him to take action to trust God with the sin in his own heart.

Do people see that Jesus is real through your life, dear one? Do you allow Him to reveal His glorious power in you?

Jesus is more than a story. He is the King of Kings seated at the right hand of God who has taken authority over all sin through the cross. He is the Lord who raises the dead, who transforms, renews and restores.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 1 Corinthians 4:20

Isn’t it time we experienced that power instead of just reading about it? You and I can’t continue to stand in faith on yesterday’s stories. We need fresh works of God to reveal His presence today. A life that doesn’t experience God firsthand will struggle with believing He’s there at all.

The fate of the Israelite children bares witness to that. When Joshua finally led Israel into the Promised Land to claim their inheritance,

The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.  Judges 2:7

These were the children of the generation God led out of Egypt who had witnessed the mighty miracles of God’s deliverance. They held on in faith to what they had seen, and they remained faithful to the Lord. But they didn’t believe God for fresh works in their midst, so their faith didn’t pass to their own children. They may have shared stories of God’s miraculous provision in the past, but with no fresh work revealing God to them in the present, that’s just what they became. Stories. And,

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.  Judges 2:10

Within one generation of entering the Promised Land, an entire generation of Israelites grew up that didn’t know the Lord. So they wandered from Him into the idolatry of the culture around them.

Oh, how I pray we would break the cycle of unbelief in our generation! Let’s become the generation that returns to the Lord full of faith and experiences the outpouring of His glory.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  John 11:40

The power of sin is broken. I think it’s time we see Jesus raise the dead.

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