Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.
Have you heard the expression, “All dressed up and nowhere to go?” It expresses the futility we experience when we feel prepared for something that never happens. Sometimes that’s how we feel about our ability to share the wisdom and knowledge we’ve accumulated in a lifetime. We may be full to overflowing with life lessons, but feel as if no one really wants to hear what we know. Or we share what we consider to be a pearl of wisdom discovered after years of living, only to have it fall on deaf ears.
We may think of ourselves as just older, not older and wiser; but truthfully, it’s impossible to move through life without gaining wisdom. Some of what we know we diligently learned through formal education, career paths, or avocations. We learned other lessons less intentionally, because even when we made mistakes or suffered tragedies not of our own making, we learned from those experiences.
In order to “pass on” all that we’ve learned, we need two things: a heart that is willing to share and someone who is willing to listen. We have more control over the first than the second, but once we realize the value of a lifetime of accumulated knowledge, we won’t be able to keep it to ourselves any longer, especially when we consider all we have learned from the Lord.
Being “all dressed up” implies preparations were made, doesn’t it? When it comes to making sure we pass along the wisdom we want our children and grandchildren to hear from us, some preparation is required. Perhaps it’s wise to think in advance about what we want to share the next time someone visits with us.
Everyone loves a good story. Jesus knew the power of teaching a lesson through stories, which is why the Bible is full of parables. If we want to connect with grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the best way may be to tell a story about our life that relates to a special interest of theirs. Do you have a granddaughter who loves horses? Tell her how the Lord protected you when your horse took off for the barn one day. Do you have a grandson who loves sports? Regale him with any story of heroism you can recall about someone honorable who played his favorite sport—especially if that hero gave God the glory.
Even young people think about dying and are curious about heaven. If your faith is strong and you have the blessed assurance of knowing that you will be with the Lord in heaven when you die, share your excitement with your children and grandchildren. Not only will you be giving them a powerful witness of faith, but you will be preparing them for losing you someday. Their grief will be much easier to bear when they know you are where you always said you would be—celebrating on the streets of heaven!
Once you share your confidence about where you are going, it will be more natural for you to share the truth of God’s plan of salvation with them, too. Tell them that Jesus died for their sins so they can go to heaven too—and see you there again someday! After all, leading our children and grandchildren closer to the Lord is the most important legacy we can leave.
Being “all dressed up” means being prepared for whatever opportunity comes our way to share the truth we know. It’s too valuable to keep it to ourselves. It honors God for us to share the things He has done in our lives. And it’s the only way to create a legacy that matters.
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How can you pass along generational gifts?
by Nancey Brummette
Nancy Parker Brummett first led a Bible study in an assisted living setting in 1999 and she and the Lord developed The Hope of Glory in the years that followed. She also journeyed with her mother and mother-in-law through their adventures in aging, and her academic interest in aging led her to receive the Professional Certificate of Gerontology from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. The author of four other books, she now focuses her writing and speaking ministries on her passion for older adults and those who care for them. To learn more about Nancy’s life and work or to subscribe to her blog on aging issues, Take My Hand Again, visit her website.