My mom wanted a do-over. She put her hope in a next life–she wanted to believe in reincarnation. If she had known Jesus, she would have been given new life, a new heart–she could have known freedom. My dad lived eighty years, and when he died, his wake made clear what he truly valued. When I read the verses in 2 Kings 3, some details almost get lost in all the words, but I slow here:
Ahab’s son Joram began to rule over Israel in the eighteenth year of King Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twelve years. 2 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as his father and mother. He at least tore down the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had set up. 3 Nevertheless, he continued in the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had committed and led the people of Israel to commit. (2 Kings 3:1-3, NLT)
When I stood at the open grave the day my dad was buried, I was acutely aware of my new rank in a lineage, that space we all find ourselves when an older generation passes away and we rise to their spot. I think long on the influence I have on a next generation and what I leave behind. Lord, only you can break chains of generational sin. You are the way, the truth, and the life.
6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. 7 For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7, NLT, emphasis added, and the Greek for believers is noted from every brother)
When I first started goal setting, I had a friend in another state that was as driven and motivated as I was, and we encouraged one another. Sometimes, the mentors and models I needed weren’t local or available (or even people that I personally knew). When I read these words in 2 Thessalonians from Paul, you know you ought to imitate us, I know God’s Word will guide and instruct me, whether or not I have a mentor or model nearby.
11 All you who fear the Lord, trust the Lord!
He is your helper and your shield.
12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us.
He will bless the people of Israel
and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron.
13 He will bless those who fear the Lord,
both great and lowly.
14 May the Lord richly bless
both you and your children.
15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
16 The heavens belong to the Lord,
but he has given the earth to all humanity.
17 The dead cannot sing praises to the Lord,
for they have gone into the silence of the grave.
18 But we can praise the Lord
both now and forever!
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 115:11-18, NLT)
Dear Lord, the older I get, your grace towards me grows more and more precious. The years humble and soften me. Time shows me what really matters. Your Word does too.
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to your name goes all the glory
for your unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1, NLT)