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Choices Distractions Family Mercy Missions Perspective Time

Temper Tantrums and Leftovers

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“You just don’t want me to have fun!”

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard those words. If you haven’t, it’s most likely because your children are still very young. Sometime around the 2nd or 3rd grade mark, children begin to think that their parents’ goal in life is to keep them from having fun.

Mom: “Clean up your toys.”

Son/daughter: “I’m not done playing with them.”

Mom: “They’ve been out for 3 days, it’s time to put them away.”

Son/daughter: “You just don’t want me to have fun!” This is often accompanied by a strong folding of the arms or stomping of feet for emphasis.

Now that my 4th child is 10 years old and I have a bit of experience under my belt, I know how to reason a bit with her when she begins to go down that spiral of, “You just don’t want me to have fun!” The other day I sat with her and asked her, “Why would I want you not to have fun? What good would I get from you not having fun? I want you to have fun – why else would I have gotten you all these toys? To have fun of course.” Cue the blank stare…I usually have 2 or 3 minutes to get a meaningful bit of communication in before the curtain of attention falls.

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My life is full. There’s no real reason for me to have a temper tantrum with my Father over things that I have/don’t have or things I have asked for but have yet to see. Yet, I somehow find opportunities to fold my arms, as it were, and look at my Father and say, “You just don’t want me to have fun!”

On the occasion that I have obeyed in some area, much like my children have been at home, I will think that my obedience gives me “credit” or “points earned” towards favorable outcomes in life – especially in those “spiritual” arenas of life. Since we are missionaries and all of what we do is basically for the Kingdom, it’s easy for me to think that God should understand and will hand everything to me on a silver platter. If things don’t work out as I think they should, “You just don’t want me to have fun!” Complete with folded arms and stomping feet.

“I’m doing this for You! Where is the money to get this vision You gave us to get this done?”

Yet, the things He had given me before are still strewn all over the floor. The new believers who need following up, leaders that need to be trained, and the community outreaches that need to be developed are still unorganized and waiting to be tended to.

If I’m honest with myself, there’s much that I am able to do without money. In fact, helping  someone develop in their life with the Lord takes more time than it does money – and time is something no one is willing to part with easily. In our era of “time management” and scheduling, we find it difficult to invest what’s needed in people to see them grow into their potentials. We have families, jobs, hobbies, sports, and recreational activities we have to fit into our schedules. Doesn’t God want us to be happy? Sounds a bit familiar.

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We can find scripture and verse to assuage the guilt that tries to assault our hearts when we consider what we should be doing when it comes to our participation in God’s work. We want more “fun time” while God our Father is asking us to collect what is strewn on the floor around us.

John 6:12 NKJV“So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’”

What is significant about the leftovers is that God takes what others would consider useless and scrape into the trash. After a large holiday meal, what’s leftover is often tossed into the trash bin as everyone has already had enough to eat. Without giving it another thought, the designated kitchen cleanup crew won’t bother with the odd bits and pieces of leftovers. Why save them? Everyone is full! Throw them away! Unless there’s an old-time auntie or grandma in the group who insists on taking the leftovers home. “It will keep me full for days!” she says while collecting the last few dinner rolls and scrapings of casserole.

The lives of people that are scattered as fragments in our societies won’t collect themselves. Much like our families’ cleanup crews, the disciples would have most likely preferred to have left the crumbs on the ground. They had already worked and served thousands, but after all of their work, Jesus told them, “Gather the fragments.” They might have wondered, “Why gather fragments? They’re just trash.” Until all the fragments came to 12 baskets full – I am sure that 12 baskets of leftovers fed many, perhaps for days.

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The things we allow ourselves to make time for are what become precious to us. Family and friends are precious for they take up our time. However, family and friends, with time, change. Children grow up and leave, friends move, life inevitably changes, and unless we have simultaneously invested in those things that are timeless, such as God’s work, we will find ourselves hungry and life will appear meaningless.

Once upon a time, like you, I was a fragment, someone whose life didn’t appear to be meaningful enough to gather. I’m so glad that someone took the time for me – someone saw value in the broken fragment of me so I wasn’t thrown away. Surely I have time to do the same.

Categories
Christmas

First, He Came as a Child

I’ve had the picture of the Savior at Christmas being a baby in a manger but haven’t taken time to really understand that He came as a child. I have had pictures in my mind of the baby Jesus in the nativity scene, surrounded by the wise men, shepherds, Mary, and Joseph. But He was a child before He grew into a man.

Imagine, God Himself, growing and playing with the neighbourhood kids. Perhaps they played versions of soccer, hide and seek, and tag. Since Jesus was the oldest in His family, I wonder if He behaved like the oldest brother by teasing and hassling His younger siblings? Did He have foods that He favoured over others? Did He clean up after Himself?

He was born Emmanuel, God with us, and God came as a child.

We’ve often quoted Mark 10:14 where Jesus says, …Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” But have we really understood what it means to come as a child?

When the Son of God came as a child, He came in the most unassuming, unimpressive, and innocent way. There was no fanfare or special treatment for the King of kings. He didn’t insist on being recognised or have His bags carried for Him. Children come without conditions; they simply enter into a room looking for those who will embrace them.

“It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child himself.” Charles Dickens

With all of the normal activity that surrounds this season, it’s easy to forget the humble history of Christmas. Its “mighty founder” came as a child. Before He grew to fill His assignment, He lived as a child. This is why He had the authority and understanding to tell us to come to His Kingdom as “little children.”

We often say that Christmas is the season for children, and for sure there’s nothing like seeing the sparkle in our children’s eyes as we see it at Christmastime. But, as we grow up, we tend to lose that sparkle as “life happens.”

When did we lose sight of the fact that things aren’t really all that complicated? Family issues, financial complications, marital struggles, all seem to cloud our understanding. When we come to Him as children and leave our struggles with Him, we can trust that He will guide us through to their resolution.

The key to it all is coming, like the Saviour did at the first Christmas, as children.

As we celebrate the season, you might be facing some very complicated and seemingly unsolvable problems. Simple as it may sound, take those problems to the Lord. He is waiting to embrace you and all that you have without precondition. Give your cares to Him and, as a child, trust that He will be with you and take you through.

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Joy

Is It Just Me?

I wake up early and spend time reading, praying, worshipping, journaling what I heard the Father speak to me during my time with Him. I love hanging out with Him! He bears with me when I’m not totally awake in the morning – when I’m just revving up and might not yet be firing on all cylinders. He gives me much more grace than I deserve.

Usually my husband, a pastor, is nearby reading His Bible at the same time as I am and we will often bounce ideas and thoughts off one another. This is where I often hear the weekend sermon before anyone else does – so my toes are sore before anyone else’s. We both follow the same yearly Bible reading plan and there was recently a time when we were reading in the book of Leviticus. I regularly follow a one year Bible reading plan because it forces me to read parts of the Word that I might not normally go – but some books like Leviticus make me chuckle!

When going through Leviticus, our conversations about what we were reading ranged from my husband’s deep spiritual thoughts to my, “I’m really tired of reading about the proper disposal of innards and taking care of skin rashes.” Am I the only one thinking this way? On days like that my journal entries veer from deep thought to, “Thank You Father that I live in this time and not in a time when skin rashes were so significant!”

It’s a relief to have the freedom with the Father to laugh. I imagine at this time every year when I am making my way reading through Leviticus and have lots of off the wall comments in my journal and conversations with the Father and husband, I give God lots to laugh about. He might even be rolling His eyes a bit at my thought patterns…

Psalm 126:1-2 NKJ “When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing, then they said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.”

Sometimes we get so serious, so over the top spiritual that we forget to live in the simple joy of what God has done for us. This joy, when we live with it on full display for the world to see, makes us “salty.” Our “saltiness” makes the world thirsty for what we have!

Living in joy has many benefits: not only does it strengthen us (Neh. 8:10) but it makes us a witness to the world. There’s enough sorrow in the world already; if we aren’t full of joy, what do people have to look for in being born again? Nothing since they’re already stressed, mad, and sad. We must give them an alternative worth their time!

Have a laugh today! You’ll feel better, look better, witness better, and be easier to live with when your mouth fills the room with laughter.

Lea Peters