By Steven Norris

     This week, I had the honor of attending the Outstanding Student Banquet sponsored by First National Bank of Griffin. This was the 41st year that the bank has sought to recognize students for their academic achievement and take a small step to invest in their future. 191 students from Spalding and Griffin high schools were recognized.

     It is cliché, but our children really are our future. What are we doing to invest in them on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis? How are we encouraging them and drawing attention to it when they do things that are truly praiseworthy? How are we taking time to listen to their questions, concerns, or doubts? How are we modeling the kind of world that we want to pass on to them when we are gone?

     On the doorframe of both my house and my office, I have placed a mezuzah as a reminder to ask these kinds of questions. The term mezuzah comes from Hebrew and means “doorpost.” Inside of it is a scroll containing the text of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, known as the “Shema.”

     It reads, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

     Every time that I pass through the door, I am reminded of the importance of passing our faith along to future generations — of investing in the lives of our young people. Ronald Reagan famously stated, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men [and women] were free.”

     In the same way, “Christianity is always just one generation away from extinction.” Of course, such a quote does not account for the work of the Holy Spirit, but we understand the sentiment. If we are not seeking to invest in younger generations — in their faith development, their education, their safety, the economy they will inherit, the care of the planet, the freedoms we want them to enjoy, or the once-civil society that might yet again characterize our nation — then we do so at our own peril.

     As Lynn Hybels once put it, “I am but one person, but I am one person.” None of us can do everything, but we can all do something. What are you doing today to remind yourself to look beyond the present moment and truly invest in our common future?