I walked through the parking lot, stepped into Target and literally wanted to vomit in my mouth. My kids cheered for slushies, popcorn, and the dollar section with little “treasures” that would turn into trash a few days later. But all I could think about was the man we saw bathing in a puddle on the roadside in Africa. I was going through culture shock, and realizing that term meant exactly what it sounded like.
I saw through different lenses, and they weren’t rose colored ones. They were through the perspective that had seen third world poverty. Through the eyes of a mother whose daughter had lived third world poverty for the first three years of her life.
Our family had the privilege of hearing the joy in her cackles during her first indoor shower. We had responsibility of teaching her to stop eating when she was full, because her next meal was going to be a sure thing. We were able to teach her how to care for her toys because she only had to share them with two other kids now, instead of thirty, and they stood a fighting chance of not being destroyed.
But it’s what she taught US that changed our family for the better. She was the first to offer a lick of her lollipop (gross, right?!) or a bite food at the table. The orphanage she had lived at cultivated a culture of caring that translated to sharing. They sang songs about the “Lion of Judah” who would provide for them “hallejuiah, DAY by DAY.”
She lived in daily dependence on her Heavenly Father to give her what she needed that day, that hour.
This is the kind of dependence God wants from his children.
“Give us today the food we need.” Matthew 6:11
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
But as we walked through the aisles of abundance and luxury at Target, I saw this beautiful realiance on the Lord slipping away, as surely as the trail of popcorn falling from our cart.
I knew we needed to act fast and be intentional or her beautiful heart was going to get lost in a culture that teaches children entitlement instead of self sacrifice.
It’s been challenging, and we haven’t done it perfect, but here’s a few things we’ve done to keep Christ our treasure and reward in a culture that tells us He’s not enough:
- We don’t keep up with the Jones’s.
How can you be thankful when you’re comparing what God’s given you to what he’s given the good ‘ole Jones’?
I’ve caught myself looking at pretty houses and commenting on them as we ride in the car together. I realized it was creating a desire in my daughters for a “two story house” (obviously, because stairs are cool). So I started saying, that is a pretty house, but the house I love the best is OUR HOUSE, because it’s where our family is, and that’s my favorite place to be.” OR “I’m thankful for the house God gave us, because there are many people in the world who have no house at all.”
I don’t want to get caught up in the Jone’s stuff, because to someone,
- •You are the Jones’s.
That’s right, if you live in America, you are the Jones’s to someone in the world. I realized this in a very humbling moment. I caught myself judging another woman for wearing a very expensive bracelet. (That’s right, I’m a sinner, too! Glory to Jesus for taking me off my high horse). In an insta-second he reminded me that someone in the world was hurting because they owned no shoes, yet I have twenty pairs or more. Ouch. We remind our children of this, “someone would love food right now, and you have choices of different cereals in the cupboard and entrees at our table!”
- We teach them what the Word says about those blessed with abundance:
This looks different in each season, but God always places people to give to and serve in our path, and it’s our job to choose obedience and love. We are looking forward to serving together as a family this holiday season.
Our goal for our daughter:
to move from depending on God to provide her needs to being used by God to provide other’s needs in the name of Jesus, through His abundance in her life.
THIS is how we treasure Christ. We keep our hands open to receive from him, and hold what he’s given us loosely, to let it flow where he wills it for his glory. ❤
Please, hear me say I haven’t mastered this. At times I have an awakening & realize I’m clutching so tightly to earthly treasures that my knuckles feel sore & my eyes burn with repentant tears. But then, beautiful Jesus… always faithful, reminds me that all of this will pass, and only his Kingdom will endure. He helps me tear my fingers away and hold loosely to temporal things again so I may lift my hands in praise & thanks to him for the eternal things.
Thankfulness for eternal blessings cultivates joy in every corner of the earth, in every season.
This is the beautiful truth my friends in Africa planted in my heart that won’t fade. They are rich in God. They are quick to count their blessings that will never be shaken: their salvation, their eternal inheritance, and their constant fellowship with Jesus.
They are also quick to pass on blessings through their hands to another’s, in the name of Jesus. I challenge us to do the same as this holiday season approaches. Let’s be simply thankful. ❤