1 Ki 15:1, 3 “Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah….And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.”

The above pictured statue of the son was made with only the pieces removed from the statue of the father, representing how parents literally give their lives to fashion the futures of their children. (The creator is Chad Knight, a talented artist.  This is a digital 3D rendering, not an actual statue. Chad created it for his son for his 18th birthday.)  What a sobering visual of how much we parents impact the next generation-especially as it involves their relationship or lack thereof with the Lord!

In I Kings 15, Rehoboam was followed by his son Abijam. The name clearly indicates Canaanite influence, “My father is Yam” (Yam was a Canaanite sea-god). In contrast, his Hebrew name, Abijah (“My father is Yah,” i.e., Jehovah), is used in 2 Chronicles 13 but is not mentioned in this passage.  Do you feel that same tension in who will be THE God of your descendants?  Here we see the dire consequences of Solomon and now Rehoboam’s compromising intermarrying with the world-a lack of identity in and intimacy with the one true God.  In just two generations, there are serious holes in the practical theology of this dear family!

Have you heard of the term “father wound”?  While the “father wound” is not an official counseling and psychology term, many professionals within these fields will recognize and address the gaping hole from this wound.  The father wound is the deficiency or absence of love from your birth father, whether intentional or unintentional.  Ultimately “father wounds” are not just horizontal but vertical because every person longs to hear “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased” just like Jesus did from His Heavenly Father (Mt. 3:17; 17:5).  We need God’s help to not put “holes” in the hearts of our descendants toward the Lord!  The prayer of every parent should be, “Lord help me NOT to be the link between those before me in my family who loved you and those who come after and don’t.”

One comforting caveat is found in 1 Kings 15:4-5, “Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”  Did you catch that?  Despite the failures of his predecessors, God showed mercy to Abijah because of David’s sincere but not spotless desire to honor the Lord.  Versions of this three-word phrase—“For David’s sake”—pop up in multiple places in the Old Testament. It’s a testament to God’s faithfulness even when we’re faithless.

As one author put it, “We’re the beneficiaries of prayers we know nothing about. God was working long before we arrived on the scene, and He’s using us to set up the next generation.  We tend to think right here, right now. God is thinking nations and generations.”  Its a whole lot bigger of a deal than we often sense!  The only way your kids and grandkids will WHOLLY follow the Lord is if they demonstratively see a wholehearted, intensifying pursuit of God in you.  You don’t have to be perfect and neither do your kids, but you must prayerfully look to the Lord who is perfectly gracious and merciful to all who call upon Him-especially parents overwhelmed with their shortcomings in impacting the next generation.