Are we missing the BIG picture?

A couple of Sundays ago, a visiting pastor at my church shared a story about his childhood with the children.  He talked about how he was cut from the school baseball team when he was a young child and how his father comforted him by giving him ice cream and encouraging him to practice hard and improving for the next year.  In the next year he not only made the team, but he was selected as team captain and then they went on to win first place in the playoffs.  At the very end of the story, on little boy spoke out and said, “You never told us what flavour the ice cream was?”

History-of-Ice-Cream-1

Of course all of us adults laughed at the innocence of such a question asked by this child, but for him it was actually really important.  This got me thinking, are we the same with things that God tells us?  Does he tell us stories and plans that he has for us, yet all we focus on is the fact that there are little treats throughout our life journeys.  Is he telling us all the hardships, time, effort and hard work that we need to put in to go through life and succeed, and at the very end all we caught on was that there was going to be ice cream?  Then when we go through life expecting ice cream and wonder when the ice cream will come.  Is this what we focus on?  All the treats and not the actual journey?

This was just a thought that I had.  I pray that ALL of us can focus on the BIG picture and then we can enjoy our treats that much more.

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Like a child

If you haven’t caught on yet from reading my previous blogs or if this is the first blog that you are reading by me, I learn a lot from children and youth.

As a youth leader and coach I love to watch youth from my youthgroup play sports.  Whenever I (or any other youth leader) go watch a youth play a sport they always feel like they have to play their hardest and win their game.  A couple of examples.  One youth lost her hockey game and she felt so bad and kept on apologizing to me and the other leaders that were there for losing.  Another youth told me not to bother going to any of his basketball games because they had a bad record.  I love how these youth look up to us in this way where they feel like they let us down when they lose.  In reality, we love to watch them play because they love playing their sports, we watch proudly as they compete, we cheer every point they score and we sympathize with every point lost.  We want to be there for them in all situations, win or lose.  We want to share in all their joys and sorrows and support them in any way that we can.

This is just like our relationship with God.  Sometimes we feel ashamed when we do something that we perceive as letting God down.  Maybe we put our faith on the line and it doesn’t turn out the way we imagined, so we perceive it as a failure and try to push God away.  Through all of this, God looks at us and says, “I want to be with you through all situations.  Let me get close to you, I am proud of you for who you are!!”  We have to accept him and let him cheer us on.

This song touches on this subject.  Pay close attention to the lyrics and may it help you let God come closer to you (or get closer to God).

Children: The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

Oh the things that you can learn from children.  What they say, how they act, some of it is just so precious.  My parents are preschool teachers and some of the stories that they tell are so intriguing.  There was this one child that was being tested by an observer to see if he needed to be put into the school districts ESL program.  My parents described the incident saying that the observer was asking questions that were required to be asked to determine if the child needed to be put into ESL.  Meanwhile, the child is talking about all the things that he is interested in and all the amazing things that he can do.  After a while he (the child) noticed that the observer wasn’t as interested in the topics that he was so passionately describing so he stopped talking and said, “You aren’t listening to me!!”  Imagine the feeling of being scolded by a child like that… “You aren’t listening to me!!!”

Today I had twenty minutes to teach a group of grade 5-6 students how to execute a netshot in badminton.  I had the lesson plan all made out and it looked great, but when the students came into the gym, it turned out that it was the same group that my colleagues taught on Tuesday, so they had already learned everything that we were going to teach them today.  My group was a rowdy, restless group of boys.  Wow were they full of energy!! The whole time I was trying to teach them through the proper progressions, but they just wanted to play a game of badminton.  It’s not like they were proficient at the skills that I was teaching them, but they knew how to do the skills, and which ones they were good or bad at.  They weren’t scared to tell me when they were bored or when they weren’t good at a certain skill.

This honesty, boldness and innocence.  No wonder Jesus told his disciples that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven would be children.  They know exactly what they want and want to do and they are honest and bold enough to tell us so.  On top of that, they have this obedience that we sometimes lack.  The group that I was teaching today, sure they were rowdy, and yes they didn’t do what I told them to do the whole time, but when I asked them to stop and listen, they would.  Children have this faith in grown ups where whatever grown ups say and do must be right (even though many times we are not right).  That’s why they will stop and listen to you, but whatever impression you put into them is the way that they may grow up to be (so we need to be cautious in how we teach them).  Therefore we need to have the faith that they have (in us) and try to be the best that we can be and strive for what we want and need in life.

Sometimes we should learn from the children that we come across in our lives.  When was the last time you knew exactly what you wanted to do and had the boldness to ask to do that, yet have the obedience to abide when people tell you “no”?  Take my parents’ student’s advice and listen to children when they have something to say.  Maybe you can learn something about yourself and what are important virtues in the kingdom of heaven.

I pray that I can find childlike faith.  I pray that I can listen when someone tells me that I am not listening.  I pray that I can trust myself the way a child would trust me and do what is right and required of me.

I hope that this song will encourage you to listen carefully to things around you.