Yesterday was Father’s Day. It is one of those worship services that affects people in different ways. We choose to acknowledge the emphasis by lighting candles to represent those men who have been our dads as well as those men who aren’t biological dads, but have influence over us through their witness and example. The story of the Prodigal son was shared and I reminded the people that, like the younger son, we have to come to ourselves before we can come home to the Father.
Part of the worship service involved having our children talk about their recent camp experience. We usually invite the children down to the steps for a children’s message, but this time the ones who went to Windermere Retreat Center for those few days last week were the ones talking. Each one shared about the Bible stories, games, and events of the week. However, one of our precious girls talked about the significance of being an American and how much we have to be thankful for. She talked about the hunger offering that was received for the people of Guatemala, and that there are many people there who do not have anything to eat. She talked about how we have cars and houses, and that the people in this impoverished area had to dig around in garbage dumps for food, and use refuge to build meager houses to live in.
There weren’t many dry eyes in the house, and without intending to do so, Elle gave a remarkable testimony of how much we have to be thankful for and that our mission should be to help those in need.
I am waking up this morning to a number of challenges relating to work and life in general, but after spending time in prayer this morning and recalling her gentle words, realize that I have too much to be grateful for to worry about things I can’t control. What I can control, are my actions and leadership in remaining outward focused and keeping in touch with the hurts and needs of others.
The younger son in the Story of the Prodigal Son, or as it is more accurately depicted “The Story of the Loving Father” reminds us that God continues to love us no matter what we have done. We don’t have to remain surrounded by pigs in the distant country. Also, that quite often it is only when we run out of our means that we recognize our need for God. While the younger son was in that place, he hired himself out to work with the pigs, and he was so hungry that he “would have been glad to eat what the pigs were eating, but no one gave him a thing” (Luke 15.16 CEV).
No one gave him a thing.
Jesus said, “the poor you will always have with you.” And this was offered in response to the generous offering of a woman who broke open a very expensive jar of perfume to poor on Jesus’ feet. He indicated this action of affection was anointing his body for burial. Those around him didn’t understand what that was about.
There is a time for extravagance. There are times when we must invest in our facilities and house of worship. It’s not often something we want to do, but it is necessary to maintain a strong base of operations when it comes to reaching people for Christ and expanding the Kingdom of God. At the same time, however, we must keep our eyes focused on what is happening around us and remain engaged with the hurting and hopelessness around us too.
This young child, in her sweet voice, reminded us that we have a lot to thankful for and that there are many people in this world who have far less that we do. With that perspective, our “1st world problems” pale in comparison to those who are wondering where their next meal is coming from today.
She also gave a wonderful lesson on the tremendous capacity of children to learn and care about others. Let us continue giving voice to our children, while at the same time providing the kind of atmosphere where they can grow and have opportunities to share from their own experiences. We might be surprised at what they teach us.