Nancy and I arrived in the states this week to begin a mini-furlough, but our first stop was to see our new granddaughter, Shiloh, and to spend a week of vacation in Florida with some of our family. One morning we went to the beach where, Adah, our two year-old granddaughter, found her prized possession – a peanut shell. She carefully picked it up, looked it over, and just like all of the other shells we’d found, she gently placed it in her sand bucket.
Then, the big discovery came. Four year-old Joanna found an amazing starfish! It, too, went into the bucket… right next to the peanut shell. We all giggled and gave the appropriate commendations, but it dawned on me. Our little granddaughters really couldn’t distinguish the value of a beautiful starfish over an old sea-soaked peanut shell and I realized that, even as adults, we can find it hard to sort through what we value most.
We long for time with our girls and their families and we cherish these days together while here. I even have an app on my iPad with a countdown feature that helps me anticipate the time when we’ll be together again. Once we arrive in America, we seriously go all out to be with our kids every moment we possibly can. But that walk on the beach got me to thinking a lot about what we value and long for. I realized, once again, that as much as we long to be with our children, God would not want us to value them above Him. And our desire to be with them should be a reflection of our longing to be with Him.
Jesus made this remarkable statement about following Him, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) I remember so clearly when I first began to understand that Bible verse. Jesus is not saying that we should hate our family… but that we should treasure Him more than any other earthly relationship. To love them deeply but to love Him even more. Our parents as well as our girls and their families are amazing…they understand God’s heart in this and have genuinely accepted it. And even now, though there are many things we know they wish were different, they never grumble over the fact that we are not always there for and with them as much as we’d all like. We’re so thankful and don’t take for granted that Jesus has given them grace to know and understand that He is the one we all value most.
So now the discipleship continues as we see our children teach their kids what to value. And even though their little hearts and minds can’t distinguish between a peanut shell and a starfish yet, they’re beginning to learn to value what God values and to seek Him above all others. And now that I think about it… I’ll keep working on it too. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)