You have given us a world of beauty, and we have spoilt it.
A world to feed us, and yet many go hungry.
A world of riches, and we are unwilling to share.
A world to care for, and we think only of ourselves.
Forgive us, gracious God,
for those times your heart is saddened by our selfishness.
For those times we have no thought of others,
no cares but ours.
Enable us to see this world anew, as a gift from you,
to be shared and nurtured.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
I’m sorry, but yes they will.
Some will step off accidentally and stumble right back on.
Some will wander off, oblivious to your calls and whistles.
Some will investigate that very pretty flower over there.
And some will test the boundaries every step of the way.
They most certainly will venture from it. It’s how they find their own way along a path with distinct boundaries but invisible guardrails. Kids are a distractable lot and tweens and teens are a naturally inquisitive bunch. Perhaps this is why we are advised to “start children off on the way they should go.” Children pay attention; they’re sponges for everything they see and hear.
One Sunday past, I sat behind Carly, a young mom, cradling her infant in a front pack. Her 2 year old son, Avery, stood next to her on the fabric seat of the pew. Grandpa had brought him in, but he wasn’t holding Avery’s hand. This boy was perfectly balanced; he was an experienced pew-stander. He demanded I shake his hand when the time for greeting was announced and then he remained standing for the anthem that was to follow.
Little Avery’s face just glowed with anticipation. Before the first chord, his happy voice rang out, “Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!” Smiles on several faces looked his way, but Dad was focused on the music and its message. Avery’s dad Josh sang,
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus…
Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!, sang Avery.
The promise we make to the children of our church upon the occasion of their baptism is this: “With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”
Start children off on the way they should go, and …
…. even though they may wander and explore and adventure on their way, …
when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6 (with my additions)
Oh, children… how wonderful it is to teach them. How magnificent it is to learn from them.
No complaining. Period. For 21 days in a row. That’s the challenge that has been issued to folks at Floris UMC for the month of September by our pastor. Him included. We are wearing purple wrist bands to remind us of our pledge and to help us keep tabs. Every time we complain we must switch our band to the other wrist. And return to Day One.
I like challenges. I like physical reminders. And, I am prone to complain. But I also try to do what I’m told, so I set out yesterday to begin my 21 days. And wouldn’t you know? I found someone’s behavior quite irritating.
No complaining, I told myself. But I was too late. I had already registered the complaint internally, which, of course, meant that God heard my complaint and had hit the Divine Gong. Switch that band.
Whoa. Wait a minute. Complaint free means not only no complaining to people but no complaining to God. I’m not sure, but I think that includes no journaling my complaints either, because they’re intended for Him, too. This is gonna be harder than I thought!
I mean, even when I manage to keep what I’m thinking to myself AND avoid sharing it with a group of friends who SURELY will support me and validate the righteous indignation I feel, I still dump on God. Regularly. Because I want Him to DO something about all these injustices.
And He takes it. He absorbs all my grievances, likely with a great shake of the head or a deep furrow of the divine brow, and hears me out. In fact, He listens. And when I listen back, I hear myself reflected. Most the time we are in agreement. That is a terrible situation. That is an unfair practice. Those are tragic circumstances.
But our God isn’t a Mr- Fix-it God. My complaints are really meant for THAT God. Won’t you please repair him. Won’t you please help them get along. Won’t you please chastise those people for being so rude …so proud…so insensitive. I want Him to do my dirty work.
God listens, but He has also spoken. His answer is us.
- Take your grievance to the one who needs to hear it.
- Take your cause to the one who can enact it.
- Apply your energy to right what you see wrong.
- Stand for those who cannot or are not standing on their own.
…with my blessing, as I would if were I you. Ask it and then act, In My Name. That may be the truest Love of all.
What a quiet September God is going to have.