Packing Up the Tent, Part II

You can read the whole article here; it was a news story that touched me.  In a special “renaming” ceremony, a central district in India allowed almost 300 girls to choose any name they wished.

Their families had named them “unwanted” in Hindi.

Imagine every time your mom called you to dinner, you remembered that you were unloved.

But now, these girls were tossing their parents’ burdens overboard and were framing for themselves a new future, starting with new names.

It’s something I’m guessing the two sons of the High Priest Eli would like to have done.

Eli’s name meant something grand and wonderful: “God is High.”

But, he stuck his two sons with some not-so-grand monikers.

Hophni meant “tadpole.”  Did he look like one at birth?  Had his father been unprepared to see the screaming red and wrinkled new baby look and tadpole was the first thing that popped in his head?

Even worse was Phinehas, which my Bible says likely comes from an Egyptian word meaning “Black One.”  If that’s true, that means the son of Israel’s High Priest bore a name from the land of slavery and a country with foreign gods.

It sure doesn’t seem like Eli set his sons up for much spiritual success.  Not at all like Hannah, who named her much-prayed for son, Samuel, meaning “Name of God.”

And the names seemed to matter.  Samuel became the great prophet and leader of the nation who anointed two kings of Israel.

Eli’s kids?  Well, Scripture tells us, “the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord . . . the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12, 17).

In Part I of Packing Up the Tent, I asked you to consider what impact you’re having on others, what legacy are you leaving?  When you pack up the tent of this world and head off to heaven, for what will you be remembered?

And now, I’m going a step further.

It’s not just a matter of what blessings and good lessons your kids will remember when you’re gone.  Not just the good advice or the good example.  It’s not just the acts of kindness that will testify to your love or the living witness you were for Christ.

We leave burdens behind, too.

So, what kind of chains am I placing on my kids that they’ll have to contend with later?

What kind of weights are we attaching to youth in our churches that will hinder their faith and worship in years to come?

It seems Eli didn’t really care about the burdens his kids would carry on into the future.

Most of us do this unwittingly, but nevertheless we do it.

I can see it in my daughters’ fear of the dark, fear of spiders, fear of roller coasters, fear of death . . . Yes, that fear is mine.

I can see it in my older daughter’s need to be perfect, to be the smartest, the brightest, the fastest, the first, and the best.  Yes, that unrealistic standard of perfection comes from me.

Too often our kids receive from us the burdens we’ve passed down to them from our own backs.

And too often this happens in our churches, too.  We weigh the youth down so much they’re eventually squashed out of the church.

But as long as we’re happy and comfortable, does it matter?

It didn’t seem to matter to Eli what his kids had to endure.  Nor did the state of the next generation matter to King Hezekiah.  He was a godly king who had relied on the Lord to save his people from the enemy.  When he lay on his death bed, God healed him and extended the length of his reign.

But when he showed off the treasures of the temple for some Babylonian visitors, the prophet Isaiah brought this godly King a message from the Lord.  Conquerors from Babylon would carry off all of the treasure and even the king’s own descendants would be carried off into captivity and forced to become eunuchs in the Babylonian palace.

Did Hezekiah plead with God to save future generations?  Did he get revolutionary and repent of his own sin, making changes so that his kids and his kids’ kids wouldn’t face captivity as their destiny?

Nope.  The King shrugged it off.  He asked, “Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?” (2 Kings 20:19).

In other words, “Why worry about them as long as I’m comfortable?”

Scripture is clear.  Our mission to tell the next generation about God and what He’s done for us isn’t optional.

The Psalmist wrote:

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:18)


We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done (Psalm 78:4).

The prophet Joel similarly commissioned Israel to “tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation” (Joel 1:3).

This is our goal as parents.  This is our mission in our churches.  And if we’re too busy passing along heavy and cumbersome burdens, then we’re missing it.  If we’re not dealing with our own issues and just allowing our kids to inherit our junk, we’re hurting them.

We need our children to inherit blessing from us, not the burdens we’ve been unable or unwilling to lay down at the cross.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King

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