Don’t Forget the Next Generation
When I was in college at West Point, my dad would often come and visit me. I remember being 20 years old on one of those visits and asking my dad about my major. At the time, I really had no desire to be in the Army, I just wanted a major that would make me money. And my Dad gave me advice that for some reason I still remember. He said, “Your undergrad doesn’t matter, so do something you enjoy. Your master’s degree is what really matters.”
And I remember that, and I did choose something I enjoyed, sort of…one of my fondest memories was working on my dad’s old car, which became my old car. So, I chose mechanical engineering which West Point was ranked number five in the country for best engineering programs. Right behind MIT and ahead of Navy and Stanford. So, I chose it.
Looking back, it was a terrible decision. Math was not my strength. I would end up spending weekend after weekend in the engineering lab missing out on Academy life, but I graduated with an engineering degree. It was odd how a memory with my dad really affected me.
My dad was great in helping me move to my first duty station at Fort Bragg, NC. He helped me pick out an apartment, and move in. As we were talking, I told him I felt I might be called to the ministry. In a rare moment of emotional vulnerability, my dad shared that he felt called to the ministry as well when he was 18 and that played a part in where he went to college. When I asked why he didn’t follow through on it, he didn’t know. He said something about life happening and then changed the conversation to sports.
That was how most conversations went. My sweet dad had real trouble being vulnerable and sharing what was really going on. And this is the part that is hard—he passed that character quirk on to me as well. It took me another 10 years and getting married for me to understand vulnerability and why it is such a huge part in connecting and growing personally.
In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar is humbled by God, comes to a place of deep repentance and even writes out his experience showing great humility. However, Daniel 5 begins with Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson who had no idea who Daniel or Daniel’s God was. In fact, when God writes out Belshazzar’s future on the wall, Belshazzar calls all the wisemen of Babylon to read and interpret it for him. However, Daniel isn’t among them and all are puzzled by God’s riddle. When Belshazzar’s mother who was also Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter heard Belshazzar was distressed by a divine riddle, she came in to tell him about Daniel. She said,
O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. 11 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.d]">[d] In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12 because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.
This would seem to me to be an important piece of information for a king to know. But for some reason, the thought never occurred to Belshazzar’s mother that she should share that information sooner. Apparently, she was around during the time of Daniel giving counsel to the king, or perhaps King Nebuchadnezzar shared it with his daughter. But for some reason, the wisdom never passed to his grandson until it was too late.
Belshazzar had become proud and had used the sacred things from God’s temple to party with and worship gods of gold and silver. The handwriting on the wall was just a momentary warning before the Medes and Persians would arrive and kill off the king.
Because the next generation didn’t know about the God of grandpa, they weren’t prepared for life. Maybe it was too personal for Belshazzar’s mother to share. Maybe it wasn’t culturally relevant to talk about one exclusive God among a city who had many gods.
For whatever reason, Belshazzar didn’t know and it cost him everything. No matter how old you or your children are, you are still your child’s parent. Don’t let an opportunity to share your vulnerability and your need for a savior and how you came to faith pass by. The story means more to your kids then perhaps the receptivity of their face may indicate. And your story may just save their’s.