“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
Jesus of Nazareth
I saw a movie about 20 years ago called “The War.” In it, a veteran of Vietnam (Kevin Costner) returns from the war a shell of his former self. He is wrestling with the role he played, the enemy he faced, and what life needs to look like in his reentry.
His son has been facing a similar war with a family of wild neighborhood children that have tormented him in his father’s absence. In one of his first day’s back, the veteran takes his son downtown for an ice cream cone. As they walk out of the store, they pass one of kids that has been harassing his son. He is dirty, shirtless, and lacking any of the joy or boyhood innocence of his son beside him.
He takes the ice cream cone in his hand, intended for his son, and gives it instead to the ragamuffin in front of him.
His son is incredulous, “What did you do that for?!”.
“Looks like no one has done anything nice for him in a long time.”
This small gesture of kindness is initially misinterpreted, but when his young son is later faced with a much more dire circumstance involving his tormentors, he risks his own life to save one of theirs. The son is watching the father. He’s taking cues. Not so much of what he says, but what he is doing. The son is deciding who he will be as a result.
The journey our family has been on for the last 5-10 years has come at a cost. We’ve had to downsize, change neighborhoods, simplify, etc., but we and our children really want for nothing. There have been a few times, however, where things seemed pretty desperate. We’ve had to get comfortable with the simple truth that while there may be a lot of uncertainty and not much margin… that things aren’t how we might want them to be… we certainly have everything we need.
We want our children to learn that as well. As a result, I’ve changed part of my tuck-in routine over the last few years. Part of my prayer routine with them is to stop and thank God that He has given us everything we need.
Water and food.
Protection and coverage.
Health and love.
Isn’t that enough?
It is if you are about to lose one of them.
It is if you currently are living without one of them.
We aren’t preaching some sort of new monasticism or anything like that. We’re not saying that we should take a vow of poverty. But we do want to differentiate between need and want for our lives. And we want our children to grow up deeply knowing the same.
It has very little to do with what we say
and everything to do with what they see us do.
Living sacrificially doesn’t always mean that you also buy someone an ice cream cone because you have something left over after you have bought yours. It means that sometimes you forgo the ice cream cone for yourself so that someone else can have one. It means that it costs us something.
We want our lives to look progressively more like that, so their lives will look progressively more like that too. My children, the people I lead, my neighbors, and a world that is largely living apart from the life of God, are watching.
- What has following Jesus cost you?
- Has there been obvious costs that those you love and lead could identify?
- Do you know how watched a person you are?