There were maybe a dozen–a few more, a few less— it’s hard to remember sometimes. The kids my wife and I gathered in our small church, ranged in ages from about five to fourteen. A mix of lively boys and girls, wound up and ready to have fun. Our hope was to introduce their young hearts to Jesus. And they seemed to enjoy coming, but I was inexperienced and was having difficulties keeping them focused and orderly. I came up with a plan though and sought my wife’s approval.
I didn’t feel that I had the normal channels that one would use when dealing with a child’s behavior. Maybe I could of been wrong, but most if not every child we had came from broken homes. And as far as I know, none of their parents or guardians were attending church. There was no one important to them that I felt I could appeal to. For most, I think, we were just thought of as a safe place for their youngins’ to hang out a while. I wanted the kids to come and didn’t want the adults in their life to find a reason not to send them. It seemed that everything about God was unknown to them—and they sure didn’t know how to behave in church.
So I came up with a plan. I asked my darlin’ if it was OK to take a picture of her mom to church and told her why. She agreed to go along with my scheme so the stage was now set. All that was left to do was to implement our plan.
With my wife standing next to me I took a minute to show the kids Marcia’s mom’s picture. I think I shared a moment about how nice she was and I’m fairly sure I had their full attention. But the mood in the room suddenly changed when I took that precious mother’s picture and THREW-IT-TO-THE-FLOOR!! Not only that I stomped on it–HARD!
For a moment I don’t think they could believe it. My wife after all seemed to be upset. But not wanting to traumatize anyone, I quickly explained it was planned, and my innocent seeming wife, was an accomplice. I wanted them to feel outrage seeing me being disrespectful of someone they instinctively knew my wife cherished. My wife told me later that their young eyes were riveted on her. Their innate reflex was to turn to who they felt was the wounded party. They recognized insensitivity when they saw it. Now, I reasoned, was the time to express how I felt about their behavior during worship. They weren’t evil ,they were just being kids. But I felt I needed to make a beginning somewhere,after all, everyone needs to learn respect for the things of God.
I stressed how important God and His house was to me. And wanted them to be respectful of our worship time for that reason. We always sang a few praise or worship songs in the beginning. And for me worship, was and still is, a sacred and special time. “You don’t have to sing” I said, “but please honor the time I give to Him”. I was hoping they would now be able to clearly see the passion I felt concerning The One I Love. I wanted my love to be obvious. Some things about people ought to be easily known. After a bit we had some fun–we always did I think. For a kid fun is enough reason to go to church. But I wanted them to at least get a hint that there was a bigger reason my wife and I was there. I wish I could say they were little angels after that, but I can’t. Things got better as we made adjustments but that moment wasn’t a cure-all. Most things change in this world slowly. Like the earth does beneath our feet. Over time even rock will change, yielding to the influence of rain, wind and sun. It takes time to effect a change in a young heart. Time to show them what ought to be loved.
I was trying to make the most of an opportunity. I hope that you too seize your chances while you are able. Some of us are responsible for a young heart and mind. And like the rain, wind, and sun that gradually alter a landscape, we change the shape of a young soul. Day by day we teach them what things are important in this world. And we do that just by living. The choices we make, the things that we love, and even the things that we hate gradually shift a young life’s perspective. If we don’t make seeking God through church attendance and prayer,a priority where will they learn how precious these things are? If we don’t meditate on the Bible, which is God’s heart revealed, why should they attach any value to it? Where there is no outward sign of affection others can’t perceive love. Love is made evident by what we value. Our pursuit of God should be the prominent habit of our life.
The things that we love are cherished by us, and those who know us well can easily read what’s dear to our hearts. An example of this , at least in my mind, is my wife’s love for her mom. Though her mom passed on a while back, Marcia Jean’s love of her mom is as obvious today as it ever was. Before she died, she gave my honey the gift of Hostas from her yard. But sometime after her mom’s passing, circumstances made my wife fear they wouldn’t come back in the spring. Her voice choked as she contemplated the possibility that they might die. I said “Don’t worry”, feeling confident, “Hostas are tough, they’ll come back next year.” And they did. Hostas are just a plant and could be easily replaced by a trip to a garden center, but these Hostas were precious because my wife associated them with her mom. Our worship time was precious to me because I associated that time with The-One -Who-Loves-Me-Most.
What we love shines through. To know Christ is to love Him. And our love for Him is obvious to those who know us best. If others don’t see our love for Him it could be because ourr affection for Him has waned. If so, He’s waiting to renew the relationship. Perhaps you’ve never met Him, if so, then it’s time someone introduced you. Then you will see why so many love Him so much.
P.S.— I didn’t use an actual photo. It was only a paper copy. I would never destroy a memento on purpose. Marcia’s mom was still around at this time.
I remember that was the night I wanted to introduce praying for those we love. So I asked them to bring in pictures. I was going to make a prayer board with the pictures as reminders of who to pray for. One young fellow informed me that I wasn’t going to get a picture of his mom! HA HA. I should have seen that coming.