Although I don’t have a dog, I enjoy watching them do tricks. In one of my favorites, the treat-on-snout trick, the dog remains seated and calm with a treat perched on its nose. Then, at the command of the owner, the dog moves its snout quickly and snatches the treat out of midair—an entertaining display of both discipline and dexterity.
Often, I wish I had that kind of discipline—the ability to stay on task despite distractions. As parents and teachers, we find ourselves in somewhat of a similar position. We live in a time with many distractions, some delightful and others difficult. The world’s offer of comforts combined with life’s difficulties make it tough to stay on mission.
Asaph describes a similar struggle in Psalm 78. As he reviews Israel’s history, he highlights their failures and contrasts them with God’s mercy. The Israelites were stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, and complaining, yet God mercifully showed goodness to them despite their sin. This merciful goodness provides a backdrop to Asaph’s appeal to remember the mission.
What is the mission?
Parents and teachers, as the older generation, we must clearly and frequently draw our young people’s attention to God’s character. We must focus on showing them His glory. We must teach them that He is good and great.
As the distractions around us intensify, we must identify what to share with our children. This Psalm reminds us to tell them of God’s glorious deeds, His might, and the wonders He has done (Psalm 78:4). What does that mean?
- His glorious deeds – God’s work that deserves praise or gratitude
- His might – God’s inherent strength demonstrated
- His wonders – God’s astonishing achievements
Identifying any of these will take work. It will take intentionality. It will take effort to look past our natural understanding of life situations and see the sovereign goodness of God behind it all. But we recognize from this song that even when disobedience and failure are rampant, God is still merciful. He still does amazing things that demand our attention and are worth sharing.
How does staying on mission help?
Nothing can distract us more than hopelessness. Especially now, as we hear more about societal failures or political problems, it becomes increasingly difficult to trust God and follow Him. Our personal struggles with sin and temptation can compound our feelings of hopelessness. We can become increasingly discouraged at the difficulty of simply obeying God.
But hope keeps us on mission (Psalm 78:6-8), so we must encourage the next generation to hope in God. Hope deeply rooted in God’s glory bears the fruit of obedience in the life of a believer. If we want the next generation to follow Jesus better than we have, we must share with them God’s glorious deeds, His might, and His wonders.
As we share these truths, remember this:
- God is compassionate (Psalm 78:38)
- God remembers our human frailty (Psalm 78:39)
- God leads with care (Psalm 78:52–53 & 71–72)
God’s care despite our failures writes a hopeful story of His goodness to pass on to the next generation. So, tell them. Stay on mission.
Need some help getting the conversation started? Here’s an idea list you can use in the classroom or at home.