Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
The place I have felt the most responsibility to plant good seed is in my children’s lives. The deliberate focus of my life has been on my calling as a wife and mother. Since this is my focus, I’m also keenly aware of my failures and faults in this area.
Each time we look at how inadequate we are in any area, it opens the door for us to either give up, and spiral into a dark place or look up and realize that our trust has to be in God, and only through Him can we fulfill our purpose there.
I love my children. I love being with them. I love their smiles, their laughs, their sweet words to me, and their hugs. I love when I see their hearts tender toward each other and others, and especially toward God.
But, they are children, with sin natures, with the usual susceptibility we all have to this consumerist society we live in. When the commercials come on TV, I hear little voices saying “Mom, I want that!” My usual response is “Well, get a job, and save up for it!”
I grew up with hardly anything materially. Yet, I had all I needed. I never went without food (much of the time it was rice & onions with soy sauce, which I still actually like). We lived in the woods on a river in a cabin with holes in it that the wind came through in winter. The roof leaked for a long time, until we were able to get it fixed. I didn’t have a piece of clothing that wasn’t passed down until I was 16. But, I wouldn’t trade a moment of my childhood for that of another child’s who “had everything.” I took away a sense of gratitude for so many things that many take for granted.
That’s why, when I see my children with all the “things” they have, it makes me sad for them. Because gratitude might be very, very expensive. It might cost almost everything.
Comparing is not always good. But, on the other hand, it gives us perspective. We so quickly sink into a rut of self pity. We can easily become bottomless pits of “neediness” if we aren’t vigilant to keep our perspective.
There’s another side; diligence and wisdom in how we steward our resources. Foolish choices and laziness lead to sure poverty. Hard work doesn’t always lead to wealth, but how we manage our resources can make all the difference in the world, and willingness to work hard can lead to opportunity.
So, what did Proverbs 28:27 mean when it says “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.“? Define poor. I know a lot of people who think they are poor. Are you poor? Or is your life just a test of trust? Do you have the Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills? The Father who who knows the state of everything down to the tiniest sparrow; the One whose name is “Provider.”
I want my children to have a heart that sees things from a perspective of eternity. So many temporal things call our names. I fall prey to them all the time. “I want_____” fill in the blank with a thing. Any thing. Is it worth it? Should we enjoy things? I think we should. Having things isn’t wrong. Any thing can be redeemed to use for God’s glory.
But, when He calls us to give up our things, for whatever reason, when we know it’s from Him, we need to obey. I recently had a heart check on this.
My 11 year old daughter Jessica hasn’t been 11 for very long. We had her birthday party here a couple weeks ago, and she has been wanting an iPod Touch for quite a while. It’s “the thing” you know? They’re very useful and very fun. Most of her friends have one. For her birthday, instead of gifts, she asked for money, so she could save up for this thing she’s been wanting. She got gifts of money from some of her friends. After her birthday, she had $70. saved up; quite a chunk in this household. She knew more time would pass for her to earn more money to add to this so she could buy the iPod.
She came to me a few days ago and asked to talk to me. “Mom, I don’t want to use my money to buy the iPod” she told me “I want to use it to buy blankets for the homeless.” I asked her how this came about “I had a moment with God” she said. We continued the conversation, and I could tell she meant it.
Children often change their mind from one day to the next. I told her that was very good. But I waited a few days before I helped her act on it. Still, I knew if she believed that’s what God wanted her to do, I wasn’t about to stop her.
Here’s where my heart check came in. Remember when Mary poured perfume that cost a year’s wages on Jesus’ feet, and Judas (you know Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus) said “This perfume could’ve been sold and the money given to the poor!” Well, my heart is so ugly, these are the thoughts I had; ‘We told everyone that she was going to use this money for an iPod. What will they think when we didn’t do what we said we would with it?’ It was like the flipside of what Judas said! (oh, my ugly heart!)
Sunday night, at our weekly leaders discipleship huddle, our pastor asked us each to share something we were grateful for, and something we were hopeful for. My husband shared my daughter’s decision about how to use her money. It was what he was grateful for. His hope, he said, is that our other children would have the same heart and “get it.”
Monday, we went to the store to buy the blankets my friend Michele (who works with homeless people) said were a good choice. While we were getting ready to go, my 8 year old son Joshua said “I want to use my money to buy blankets for homeless people, too.” He had $15. saved up.
Just like that, the very next day, God answered my husband’s hope.
Joshua asked me if he could put one of his dollars into the Salvation Army bucket at the door. Then, together, with $84. and some change, they got 8 blankets.
Tomorrow, we will meet Michele with the blankets at the place they keep items needed to help care for homeless people in Greensboro.
There are so many things in which I know we have a long way to go. But, I am so grateful for a God with a generous heart, and I am so grateful my children are beginning to learn his generosity.
My hope is that they will keep this heart, coupled with God’s wisdom as they grow. “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing…”