24-7 Ibiza – Part 8 – From one generation to the next
The team have lots of stories about this trip… lots of things both exciting and challenging, and I hope to throw them up here over the next few weeks…. there’s so much to get your ahead around!
A couple of nights ago Poppy and I came across a mother and daughter who were on holiday together. The mum was lying on a bench feeling quite sick having drunk too much alcohol! The daughter was looking after her… she looked 18 or 19 but was actually 15 and behaved as if she was about 30! It turned out that they have driven to San An that night from there hotel about 20 minutes drive away and they didn’t have enough money to get a taxi back. Also, the next morning the hired car was due back and they were actually due to get home. The girl explained to us in pretty colourful language that this was not the first time this had happened during their weeks holiday. Last time mum had actually driven home…. this time however she was feeling too sick. We stayed with them a while, gave mum some water and made sure she was feeling better. They had been in one of the bars earlier in the week and had struck up a friendship with one of the sound engineers working there. On this particular evening they had agreed to meet him after he finished work. We stayed with the mum and daughter until he turned up and he turned out to be a really great guy who knew about the work of 24-7 he was happy to make sure the mum and daughter got back to their hotel etc. Mum and daughter were really nice it has to be said and very grateful to us for the assistance we were able to give, small as it was. As Poppy and I reflected on the situation we talked about the impressions we had of the kind of role reversal we were seeing in the relationship between mum and daughter… and in the forthright and mature views held by this young girl.
During the next hour, as we spent time in the prayer room praying for this situation and many of the others the team had been facing on the streets I was drawn to Ezekiel 18… to a passage that speaks of God’s justice in relation to families. Amongst the Israelites there was belief that sin and indeed punishment would pass from one generation to the next. You will find it written about about in the prophets and indeed Jesus faced a question about it from his disciples when confronted by a man born blind (John 9). Do sons and daughters get punished for the sin of their parents? Do parents get punished for the sins of their children? What Ezekiel 18 gives us is a picture of a time when cycles of sin which flow between the generations will be broken because of God’s grace.
We dare not underestimate the impact that the behaviour and actions of one generation has upon the next… even unconsciously… our words and actions are absorbed, mirrored and reflected back to us by those that come behind.
The next morning in our team devotions Nicki read a story from Philip Yancey’s book “What’s so amazing about grace?”. The central character was a woman called Margaret who along with her mother and siblings suffered under the tyranny of a drunken and abusive father. In the story Yancey traces three generations of ungrace and unforgiveness that poisoned the lives of family members for nearly a century!
Is this kind of dysfunction inevitable? Does it just happen? Is there anything that can be done?
God can break in!
That is what we prayed for… that the cycle of ungrace and unforgiveness would be broken in the lives of this mum and daughter. When you think about what happens on the streets of San An and in most towns across the UK and Ireland on a weekly basis… you wonder what is going to be passed from one generation to the next.
We need to pray that God will break in… that established patterns of behaviour and life will be broken as we come to experience God’s grace in our lives. Ben shared a challenge to all of us this morning in our devotions from Philippians 2:14-15:
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
Another piece of the jigsaw!
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