where are you today?
"Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever."
There’s a long-standing radio program in called Story Corps. It’s a charitable organization that catalogues the stories of people’s lives from generation to generation, and then holds them in archive at the National Library of Congress. Story Corps’ role is to preserve history, and secondarily to capturing acts of courage, strength, pain and heroism in everyday relationships. A few years ago I was listening to the story of two Chicago firefighters. It seemed like a fitting story for the current crisis we are facing with wildfires burning all across our state. It was the story of Dekalb Walcott Sr., who spent more than 30 years on the job. He's now retired, but his son, Dekalb Walcott Jr., has taken up his dad's line of work. Walcott Jr. describes that when he was growing up, everyone wanted to be like Michael Jordan. The phrase, ‘like Mike,’ was true for everyone in his school. But Jr. didn’t care much for being ‘like Mike.’ Instead, he describes that his father was his Michael Jordan, his everyday hero. Ever since his first ride-along in his father’s firetruck, Jr. knew that was what he wanted to do. Today Jr. carries on the legacy of his father as a second-generation firefighter. If the Walcott’s story was a marathon, Sr. has passed on the torch from his generation to his son’s. And Walcott Jr. has taken the torch and is actively running with it. And he’s done such a good job, he’s even surpassed his father in firefighting capability.
I think that’s what it means to pass on the torch from one generation to the next, from one leader to another soon-to-be leader; it means that the “Sr.s” are willing to put their trust in the “Jr.s”. Not only that, but they’re willing to relinquish power especially knowing that their predecessors are going to achieve even far greater things than they will. And the Bible is filled with the stories of everyday women and men who seize their moment when someone passes on the baton from one generation to another. We see this is the story of Moses, when he hands over leadership of Israel to Joshua. Joshua goes on to lead the Israelites into the promised land in Joshua 1, into something that Moses cannot and does not do: 1 After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Therefore, the time has come for you to lead these people, the Israelites, across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them … 6 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. It happens again when David hands over the keys to the Kingdom of Israel. Read this incredible promise God gives David in 2 Samuel 7: 11 Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! 12 For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13 He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. 15 But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’ So we see that David’s descendants go on to do even greater things than David. It happens again when Paul hands over authority to Timothy to be a guardian for the church. He says this in 1 Timothy 6 (sneak peek: we’ll be talking about Timothy and Paul on Sunday):
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. From generation to generation, we see a clear picture that the way God chooses to work in the world is through generational discipleship. Not only is it expected, but it is commanded that we will be the torch bearers for God’s Kingdom. And when our time is up, we have the responsibility to hand over to the next generation who will seize their moment. Where are you today? Are you the old generation, needing to trust that God is bringing up the next generation, and you need to hand over the torch? Or are you the new generation, scared that taking on the torch will be a hard and impossible burden?
I’m not talking about age, because passing on your faith is something that we’re all called to do. And it doesn’t matter if you’re passing it on to someone older or younger than you. What matters is that you’re passing it on.
Wherever you are today, know the truth that God grows you as you look for those you can disciple. I pray we see many disciples made through our call to pass on the torch through taking the Gospel to all the places God has called us.