“I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
On Lauding God’s Works from One Generation to the NextThere is something profoundly powerful about the psalms. At times when we have no words, we can easily find the expression of our hearts and deepest thoughts on the pages written by the psalmist. Whether they be words of lament, adoration, invocation, intercession, we are assured that the breadth of our human experience – from joy to grief – will be expressed in some way in this Old Testament book.
Of recent I have found myself in a quiet and somewhat tired place, perhaps because of the complexities of our presbytery life together – countless conversations and decisions that need to happen. Perhaps it is because of a hunger to move us forward together into the world as a people of the Word – convicted that there is much we can do in mission together – regardless of all the human limitations and divisions posed upon us. Perhaps it is a concern about the rising college senior who has recently found himself in the hospital several times due to severe food allergies. I suspect it is a combination of all these that have escorted me to the psalms and this quiet place, with a sense of thankfulness for the presence of God that centers and sustains me through it all (whether or not I like the outcomes).
The presence of God over the past year-and-a-half has been a bit like a thread woven through the many dimensions of my life. The thread ties all the pieces of who I am together, giving even the most disparate pieces a common connection and relationship of faith – faith and confidence that provide that ‘impossible resurrection hope’ in the midst of all that appears to be lifeless or challenging. This awareness of God’s presence leads me to resonate with the words of this psalm in a new way, especially verse four, “One generation shall laud your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts.”
According to the dictionary, to laud means “to acclaim, praise, or mention.” As the parent of a young adult, I find myself asking these questions – How is it that you and I acclaim or mention the mighty acts of God to another generation, especially during tougher moments? What is it that the next generation sees and hears that will reflect for them our deep conviction and faith?
For more than a decade, I had the privilege of teaching one-day baptismal seminars for parents. As we reflected on the role of the church community in the life of those children, we would remind the parents that faith is more often ‘caught’ than ‘taught.’ The truth is that we can teach all we want (and the truth is that we probably don’t teach enough), but it is the visible fruits of how we live (what we say and do) that will be remembered and reflected upon by the next generation. They are astute observers who are watching whether we simply talk or whether we actually “walk the talk.” They are observers of the truth – eager to be a part of efforts and beliefs that change the world.
This is a season where many of our families are celebrating the graduations of their sons and daughters. High school graduates are preparing to leave the security of childhood behind while “commencing” and venturing into the beginnings of adulthood. College graduates are preparing to enter new realms of adulthood, whether it is graduate school or the first adult employment. Younger children are moving into elementary schools, middle schools, or high schools. These are major milestones in the lives of our children and youth. They are markers along the journey. I can’t help but ask myself – What of our faith will they take with them on their journey through this life? What stories and “works” of courage and faith have we lauded to them? What will become the “default” place of their faith that will sustain them when their parents, mentors and adult friends are no longer with them?
June is a season that reminds us of the importance of not squandering our time with our young people. Time marches quickly. The time to share the celebrations and stories of our faith moves rapidly behind us, making it so important that we, this generation, indeed laud God’s mighty works to the next generations. It’s a reminder that renews my ‘tired’ spirit as we continue to be about the Gospel.
May this reminder serve to encourage us to be a living presence to the children and young people in our lives. May they hear and see through us the great gift of our faith in the love of God through the presence of Jesus Christ. “My heart extols you my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.”