4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
In chapter 12 of the book of Mark, a lawyerly scribe, having just watched Jesus embarrass the Sadducees in their pretense, approaches Him with what we can imagine to be a more sincere question. “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Jesus responds by quoting what was and remains one of the most sacred passages in the Jewish canon, the Shema.
It was the preamble to the last words Moses would deliver to the generation he was leaving behind. It was a charge to REMEMBER who God is and what He has done.
Today, it remains the principal declaration of faith in the One True God for the Jewish people, as a reminder of the Primary Things that can too easily be lost or distorted by worldly distractions and inferior preoccupations. And for Jewish parents who honor this vital tradition, it is often the first scripture a Jewish child learns and the last thing they say before they go to sleep.
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that shortly after I became a follower of Christ, I became a voracious note-taker. It began with the margins in my Bible. But I soon I ran out of room for my thoughts and questions, so I gravitated to small spiral-bound notebooks. And as anyone who knows me will tell you, I have one with me at all times to this day.
Though perhaps not in the conventional sense, as if there is a rigid structure to the discipline of journaling, my collection of notebooks are a record of my walk with Christ—though the earliest of these, worn and weary like their author, betray more of a stumbling crawl. They are filled with my reactions and responses to reading Scripture and hearing sermons, as well as story ideas, geometry problems and, as of late, some delightful “illustrations” from my soon-to-be-three-year-old son.
Shortly after he was born, I began to fill separate pages with the thoughts and confessions of a man coming to terms with being a Daddy, with the hope of maybe someday turning my chaotic reflections, confessions and memories into some kind of order. Not because they are worthy of collecting, mind you, but because they offer a picture of the soul of his father…and his father’s relationship with his Father.
Though I long to excite wonder in my son’s heart and stir his affections for things that please God with whatever I leave behind, I pray that, along the way, I’m telling His story. Ultimately, if my thoughts and my journals are only about me, then they are not worth leaving behind.
If education and spiritual formation begins in the home, as I believe it does, then that begins under my leadership and I would be foolish if the gravity of my responsibility did not give me pause. I could thrill him with stories and fill pages with words, but if he does not see me confirm with my life the truth I proclaim in my writings, then I have merely filled pages with characterless fiction.
With my journal, I hope to leave him memories and reminders…a small piece of me. But with my life, I hope to give him something to remember.
- To what degree are spiritual principles incorporated into your daily family life? How about as a personal spiritual practice?
- Have you ever asked, "What will my legacy be?" The answer is rooted in stories of the past, a life of significance in the present, and passing on wisdom, love, and blessings for the future.
Children are often protected from their parents' personal struggles, tough decisions and trials. Therefore, children rarely have an opportunity to see exactly how the Word of God is lived out in the life of a parent, much less how God provides answers, guidance and comfort from His Word. Wouldn't it be a surprise—and a great value—if on graduation day, or as a wedding present, parents presented to their son or daughter a spiritual commentary on how God spoke to them over the years of their growing up?