Family stories are wonderful ways of transmitting family history and heritage across generations. Can you imagine what it must have been like to be a Hebrew child listening to the ancient tales of the great heroes of Israel? Every evening when the sun sank low and the evening stars began their dazzling parade across the heavens, it was time for stories.
Gathered in circles, around fires, or on rooftops awaiting a cooling breeze, life was shared through story. Sprinkled amid the narratives of their present time would have been allusions to other stories from long ago. These were the tales of great people, great exploits, and sometimes, great tragedies.
I recently tucked my grandson into bed after reading a story to him. We prayed together and as usual he asked me to pray first. Culling out all the big, fancy theological words, I prayed for him to have a good night's sleep. I prayed that his parents, traveling in China, would be safe. I prayed that he would grow up to love Jesus and always serve Him. He followed with his prayer, which took some bodily repositioning in the bed. (Apparently God can hear little boys better when they are fidgeting and moving around!)
His prayer included the typical things that are on the minds of six-year-olds. He prayed for Mommy and Daddy, he thanked Jesus for some special blessings, and he asked for a good day tomorrow. Then he uttered these words that brought hot, warm tears to my eyes: "Oh God, you know I love you so much--I'd just like to hug you!"
You see, the narrative that is so central to his life is the story into which he was born. Blessed by Christian parents, living in a God-centered home, and surrounded by an extended family that shares a Christian faith, he really knows no other story. As soon as possible, he was taken to the altar of the church and dedicated to God. He knows no other narrative, and one day that story will be his by virtue of a life-changing decision. The accounts passed down through generations shape people-and so we must look to the past as we consider what is on the horizon.
In this issue, General Superintendent Emeritus William Greathouse reminds us of our theological heritage. And college presidents Ed Robinson and Dan Boone point out that the future of Nazarene higher education is directly related to our faithfulness to tradition. Read and listen to this story long enough, and someday you'll find yourself saying, "Oh God, you know I love you so much--I'd just like to hug you!"
David J. Felter, editor in chief Holiness Today, July/August 2007