“What time is it?” I asked with enthusiasm.
The children responded, “KID’S TIME!”, ran to the front of the worship area and slid to a stop at my feet.
Yes, it was Kid’s Time at New Song Church. The kids never know what the topic will be. Neither do the adults, but I’m suspicious that they look forward to the 5 minute story more than the sermon. “I wonder what’s in my brown bag today?” I asked.
On this day, I pulled out coins. “Does anyone know what this is?”
With a hungry smile, all replied, “Money!”
“Would you like one?”
“YES!” the group of greedy misers replied. I gave each child a quarter and told them to hold it tightly in their hands.
“What’s it worth?” I asked holding up a shiny George Washington.
“What can you buy with it?”
The older and wiser children wrinkled their noses as one said, “Not much. Maybe a piece of candy or gum.”
“I have something else in my bag.” I reached into the bag and pulled out my fist. “Would anyone be willing to give me their quarter for what I have in my hand?”
Blank stares. Can you believe they don’t trust their pastor? I could see the wheels turning in their little brains, puzzlement on their faces, dilemna in their eyes. “Should I? Shouldn’t I? What if he has nothing in his hand? What if he has something really good in his hand? What if someone else trades him before I can decide and it’s really good? What if I trade him first and it is a dead worm and everybody laughs at me? But Pastor Herb wouldn’t give me a worm, would he? But he has had some strange things in that bag before.”
Finally, Hailey the gambler, chirped, “I will!” I held out my hand, she placed the quarter in it. She held out her hand, I placed a $2 bill in it.
Suddenly, in unison, with no further encouragement, a cacophany of voices rang out, “I’ll trade! I’ll trade! I’ll trade!” I smiled.
“Why?” I asked. “What makes it better?”
“The $2 bill is worth 8 times what a quarter is worth,” one quick thinking boy answered.
“Then why wouldn’t you trade before?”
“We didn’t know what you had.”
Lesson 1. That is exactly what God says to us, is it not? “Give me what you have and I’ll give you what I have.” Hailey was willing to take a risk because she trusted me, even though she couldn’t see what was clenched in my fist.
“Do you still want to trade?”
“YES!” nearly every voice cried. I pulled out an envelope of $2 bills and traded with each child as they stood to go to class. Except for one. Sarah came close to me. With a bit of a worried look, she quietly stated and asked at the same time, not knowing if it would be okay, but hoping it would, “I’m going to keep my quarter and put it in the bank at my grandma’s.”
A voice from my right, “Sarah, take the $2! Make the trade.” Her mother.
“Are you sure you don’t want to trade?” I asked.
Shaking her head yes, as if that would convince me to let her keep it, “I want to keep my quarter and put it in my bank at my grandma’s.”
A voice from my left, “Sarah, take the money. Give him the quarter and take the money.” Her grandpa.
This was getting good. I was going to split a family right here in the middle of worship. A new experience even for me. As she held tightly to her coin the treasure she so wanted to put in the bank at her grandma’s, I saw confusion begin to creep across her face. She was hearing the voices of her greedy grandpa and her money seeking mother telling her to make a trade she did not want to make. Her heart valued a shiny, silver coin much more than a dull-green piece of paper, but those she depended on were calling out to her. She looked to me, her trusted, friendly, helpful pastor for direction.
Before she could give into those voices and make a trade she didn’t want to make, a trade she would later regret, a trade that just might bring a flood of tears, I encouraged her. “Sure, Sarah, you can keep that quarter and put it in your bank.”
Relief. Satisfaction. A smile as she skipped off to class. Bewilderment, frustration, pity on the faces of her mom, dad, and grandparents. Shaking their heads as we began the next song. Sure she could have bought more with the paper, but that was not what this was about for Sarah. Value, as well as beauty, is very often in eye of the beholder.
Lesson 2. Sometimes the voices around us don’t know what is of greatest value to us. But God does.
A couple questions…
Are you holding on to the quarters of life, when God is offering so much more? Do you trust Him enough to trade what you can see, touch and taste for what you can’t? When He asks you to give up everything for Him, does He really have something better?
To whom are you listening to tell you what is of most value? Voices coming from your left and right, or the voice of the Great Giver Himself? How easily are you swayed or do you cling to the treasure that is only in Christ?
Questions about ultimate value. Hope you’ll answer them today. Before it’s too late
Boldness and Blessings,
"He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." Luke 16:15 (NIV)
"We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor 5:7 (NIV)