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Passing on the greatest story of all

Passing on the greatest story of all

Passing on the greatest story of all

10 August 2016

By Major Shelley Soper

When the first of my grandchildren started to arrive a few years ago, I decided to continue a family tradition started by my mother-in-law, Grandma Soper. It is the tradition of storytelling.

Grandma Soper would take every opportunity to tell her grandchildren stories from her growing-up years on the farm, flavouring those occasions with stories from the Bible. She proved to be quite gifted at holding the children’s attention, telling the stories in a fun way that appealed to their curious minds. She sowed seeds and strengthened their fledgling faith.

Now that I’m the “Grammy” and the storyteller, the tradition has continued ... with a twist! It’s called “Tricky or True” and commences with, “Once upon a time ...”. The stories follow a similar theme – life stories about growing up, funny escapades and holiday adventures of their dad, uncles and Grandy. At the end of the “telling”, I ask my grandchildren, “Do you think this story is ‘tricky or true’?” Then the grandchildren take their turn to tell their stories. To “speak” into the hearts of my grandchildren is a privilege, and it is with an increasing sense of urgency that I realise it is also a responsibility and time is short.

In Psalm 78 the author retells “history”. The story of the children of Israel until the time of King David is told with the express intent of reminding his listeners and readers of the faithfulness of God. He speaks of “tricky” things, things hard to understand from the past and, in the re-telling, he emphasises the great importance of the next generation knowing the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. Why?

In verses 1 to 8 there is a clear direction given for one generation to tell the next about God – so that they would know about his faithfulness, his power and his love; and so they would believe in the Creator God and not forget what the Lord had done in the past. “Tell them” so that they do not make the same mistakes as those who’ve gone before. “Tell them” so that they understand the importance of listening to God. “Tell them” that God is their leader and there is strength and peace when they continue to follow him. 

I have my own stories and knowing of the “praiseworthy deeds of the Lord” and, yes, at times it has been “tricky” because I also have my own stories of disobedience and failure. But what I know to be true is this: God has never failed me. From generation to generation in our family he has woven his story into our own and his truth has brought life! 

What stories will I tell my grandchildren for the next “Tricky or True” time? I think I will tell them about their great, great grandfather, a poor shepherd in the north of England who battled alcoholism. How he went into town one day, heard an evangelist giving a Gospel message and accepted Jesus. I will also tell them that the choice made by their great, great grandfather changed his life and, in turn, has changed the lives of successive generations, including mine. And I will tell them that it is their responsibility to continue to tell God’s story.

Yes! That is the story I will tell when we snuggle into bed for our next time of “Tricky or True”. God’s story and our story joined together is powerful because it’s true! It is also true that, regardless of your past, it is never too late to connect your family and your story, to God’s story. He is in the business of transforming lives and restoring whole families to new life.

Major Shelley Soper is the Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries, NSW and ACT Division.

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