Like most parents, my husband and I want good things for our children. We want them to avoid mistakes we have made, learn things faster and easier than we did and of course, we want them to have opportunity. Opportunity to play sports we didn’t play. Opportunity to play instruments we gave up on in 6th grade. Oh yes, and if you asked me I’d also probably tell you that we want to give them opportunities to experience God and faith in a meaningful and transformational way. If you catch me in a particularly holy mood I might tell you that we also want to give them opportunities to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Yes, that is what we would tell you we want for our children and it isn’t that we would be lying. We want good and great things for our children, but unfortunately if you followed us around for more than a few days you would quickly see a gap between what we say we want for our kids and the way we actually do life.
This past weekend my rear end graced the seat of a folding chair for about nine hours over the span of two days, in a town two hours from home. We endured late nights, exorbitant food, hotel and parking prices and scheduling that could be summarized neatly on a three page spread sheet. All in the name of opportunity. Although none of this is bad, evil or wrong, there is a problem with it. I have spent the last six months studying the book of Luke and if there is one thing I have taken away from hours of reading, research and lectures it is that Jesus cared about the poor. He cared about helping the poor. He cared about the way the rich treated the poor. He cared about what priority the poor were in the lives of those who professed to follow Jesus. It occurred to me recently that we jump through every obstacle to attend every one of our children’s sporting events and solo ensembles, but it has been over a year since we have volunteered to help those less fortunate than us. If we have to leave at five in the morning to go to a tournament three hours away we complain for five minutes then go. But if we have to forgo a Saturday morning on a rare off week from sports to help pack food for starving children in Africa? Well, there will always be another opportunity to serve when our lives aren’t so crazy. I say it all the time but have been failing to remember that we make time for what’s important to us. We have allowed sports and our children’s activities to become more important to us than helping others. We are living in disobedience to God’s call on our lives in the name of ensuring our children are happy, never bored and doing what everyone else is doing. And although our kids will not stop playing all sports or give up playing the flute and drums, we will begin volunteering to help others effective immediately (and I say that not with any degree of pride, but rather with some embarrassment and regret).
“Dear Lord, Thank you that you are not up in heaven shaking your head at me in disappointment because I spent the entire weekend at a volleyball tournament. Thank you that you are patient when I read your Word for hours and hours and then completely miss its application in my life. Thank you that you have provided an opportunity for our family to serve this weekend. Help us to be your hands and feet realizing that life will always be busy and there will always be opportunities to do lots of other things. Help us to live in obedience regardless of whether it is convenient, fun or allows us to sleep in. Thank you that in teaching our children about obedience and helping those less fortunate, we are giving them more opportunity than any hobby, sport or instrument could afford them. In Your Name, Amen.”