“Joshua, son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten.” (Judges 2:8, NIV)

There is an undeniable truth of life, and that is one day, we all will die. Many of us will leave someone behind. Someone will receive our material possessions, but what spiritual legacy will we leave for our children and family when we are gone? As believers in Jesus Christ, what spiritual legacy will we leave for the generations of young people? Will they know who God is and why we have faith in Jesus Christ?

The lyrics from “What About the Children?” written by BeBe Winans and music by gospel artist Yolanda Adams repeatedly play in my mind. The words regularly flow from my mouth.

“So, humbly I come to you and say
As I sound aloud the warfare of today
Hear me, I pray
What about the children?
To ignore is so easy
So many innocent children
Would choose the wrong way

So what about the children?
Remember when we were children?
And if not for those who loved us
And who cared enough to show us
Where would we be today?”[i]

Reflecting on my childhood, several of my fondest memories are growing up as a preacher’s kid in a large family. Taught to respect older people, we lived within a small multigeneration church community where my father and mother were pastors. Everyone knew each other, and they loved children. One of the expressions of this love was to instruct children about Jesus and encourage them. I recall children destroying an “Easter speech” or voice cracking while singing a song. But the adults encouraged them with the famous, “It’s alright child, let the Lord use you!” Children had a sense of accomplishment that gave them the courage to do it again. Now to what I did not like about being a preacher’s kid.

While growing up, I had no genuine appreciation for the value of learning about God and Jesus. I did not particularly appreciate going to church multiple times each week. A singer in the children and youth choir, I even played the piano for a brief time. On Sunday, we were in church all day. Our church did something that I called halftime or intermission. After Sunday school, the church ladies would serve hot dogs to everyone from the small church dining area. Then we went into the midday service. After that service, those same ladies would have prepared our take-home dinner.  Perks that all the children loved!  That was my life until I graduated high school at the age of seventeen. Growing up, my parents were serious about applying a principle for living from the book of Joshua.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua: 24:15)

As an adult, I realized the impact of growing up in a community of people who loved the Lord. Experiencing the faith in action lived out by my parents and so many others were foundational for my life. But I also remember when the older people in the church started to die, how sad I felt, and the lessons I learned. The death of my parents left a deep void in my life, but I found joy in my sadness because they talked about dying as a part of living. The spiritual legacy they left lives on through me, their children, grandchildren, and so many others. I still hear them saying, “Talulah, always keep Christ first in your life and raise your children in the church.”

In Judges 2, the writer gives an overview of the state of the Israelites and the spiritual and moral decay they experienced whenever they turned away from serving God. But the author also reminds us that Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land and divided their inheritance. The Scripture says that the people served the Lord throughout the time Joshua and the elders were alive. Then, we read Joshua’s eulogy. His identity and lifelong legacy of following God are in a single verse.

And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years.” (Judges 2:8)

What spiritual legacy will you leave? What about the children? Not just about your children, but the generations that we leave behind.

 “After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10, NLT)

[i] Lyrics from eLyrics.net