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We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,~ Psalm 44:1-3
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.
It occurred to me once, awhile back, that my grandchildren might like to hear the story of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego. So while they finished lunch, I told them of the events. I explained how King Nebuchadnezzar had built a statue of gold and had made a law that whenever the people heard music—the flute, lyre, harp, pipe, etc—they were to stop what they were doing and bow down and worship the image. I told them of the jealousy some of the Babylonian officials felt toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and how that jealousy caused them to tattle to the king when they noticed that the boys refused to bow before the idol. I described how furious the king became, and how he called the boys before him and gave them a choice: either they bow down before the golden idol, or they would be thrown into the fiery furnace. “And then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand,” Nebuchadnezzar asked.
The kids were not paying much attention to their lunch at this point.
“What do you think they decided to do?” I asked.
”They didn’t bow down.”
”Right. They said, “Our God is able to deliver us from the furnace. But even if He doesn’t, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden idol.”
“I bet the king was really mad then,” Maddy said.
”Yep. He ordered the fire to be seven times hotter than normal, and then he had his strongest guards tie up Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego and throw them in the furnace. In fact, the fire was so hot that it killed the guards who threw the boys in the oven. But then, the King jumped up and said, ‘Wait! What’s that? How many men did we throw in the furnace?’”
’Three, your Majesty,’ someone said.
’Are you sure? Three? You’re sure it was three?
’Yes, Your Majesty.”
’Then … then … why do I see four men in the furnace?’
Gage gasped, and then held his hands against his cheeks. “Ooooh! I know who it is! It’s Jesus! It’s Jesus!”
He knew. And he was elated.
”Oh, Grandma, I just love Jesus stories. Tell us another one!”
Maybe the best moment of my entire grandmother-hood.
The word “legacy” has a weight and heft that can rightfully intimidate. It’s the epilogue of your life—the “rest of the story,” so to speak. It’s the mark you leave that gives meaning to your brief appearance on earth. And the magnitude of it can paralyze you, if you don’t simplify it down to the one and only thing that matters: passing Jesus on to the next generation.
That’s what we read in today’s Psalm: the evidence of fathers and mothers sharing God with their children, who then pass those stories of rescue down to the next generation. The humble acknowledgement that no victory ever came from their own arm or their own strength, but from the gracious intervention of their God alone.
It’s an echo of the gospel story. No work on our part went into our salvation; the work was all God’s.
We want to make an impression on the lives in our care; more than that, we want it to be one that will ring throughout eternity. If, with words of faith and gratitude, we tell of the deeds of God, the strength we’ll impart to our children and grandchildren will live long after we’ve gone, and guide them when we no longer can.
It is delightful to see the footprints of the Lord on the sea of changing events, to behold him riding on the whirlwind of war, pestilence, and famine, and above all to see his unchanging care for his chosen people. Those who are taught to see God in history have learned a good lesson from their fathers, and no son of believing parents should be left in ignorance of so holy an art.~ Charles Spurgeon