On Sunday, my daughter asked me to recount the story of how my husband and I met. It’s not an exciting story. We were in middle school. We met on the bus stop. There are a few details I will leave out, because I don’t want the whole internet to know our unconventional path to one another, but the baby was fascinated by a tiny portion of the story, that makes absolutely no sense. It doesn’t make sense to me now. It didn’t make sense, then either, but I was thirteen, and nothing had to make sense.
“Did you really do that?” She turned to my husband. “Did she really do that?” We both answered in the affirmative.
We recount our stories often. The older the kids get, the more details we reveal to them. As they grow older, we paint an even clearer picture of how we got to be where we are. So the big kid knows why we didn’t go to prom together. The little ones have no idea of the significance of high school dances. Prom is a long way off for them. The value of that story would be lost on them today. But in a few years, after they attend their first school dance, that story will hold a lot of weight. Right now, that bus stop story is about all they can handle. So we tell it often. They laugh at the funny parts. They express disgust in the appropriate places. It doesn’t matter that the story happened 30 years before the youngest was born. They tell the story as if it were their own, and it is partly their own. Because without that bus stop story, we don’t get to the place where we are now.
I’m reminded of this commandment to the Israelites:
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, took this command to heart. They knew the importance of passing down the stories of their ancestors. Those stories are still being told today. Those stories are still leading people to faith.
My youngest child knows the story of how her mommy and daddy met. She knows it well enough to repeat it. I love that she can tell the fairy tale of the bus stop, but in reality, I’m training her to be able to recount her own stories. That’s what the commandment in Deuteronomy is about. It’s not just about being able to trace the the history of the past, but about being able to continue the story into the future.