A few weeks ago my son Riley taught me a great lesson in perspective. That our view and focus can limit our ability to see more or imagine more when God wants to bless us beyond what we can imagine. So how did a less than two year old tell me this? Well let me give you the setting.
In the youth ministry that I lead we have created a youth center known as the 'youth building'; creative huh? I our y.b. we have a cafe stocked with food and candy. A popular item are the 5 cent 'Red Vines'. If you know anything about red vines they are the equivalent of poor man's Twizzlers, classic licorice. It didn't take long for Riley to get a taste of a red vine. From then on he was hooked. Every Wednesday after service when he gets in there he quickly heads behind the counter and starts pointing at the red vines. He is soon seen stomping around the room, red licorice hanging from his mouth, red slobber running down his chin onto his shirt, and a content look on his face.
On the night of this particular life lesson, some of our student leader girls decided to treat those who came early to 'otter pops' flavored ice. No if you know anything about cheap sugary snacks you know that flavor ice blows red vines away any day, no comparison.
Riley had never experienced flavor ice so I thought it might be fun to give him this treat for different. As usual he made a bee-line for the red vines. He was so focused on wanting his usual that he began to throw a fit as I tried to get his attention to show him the flavored ice, a cool stick of blue raspberry. He began to cry, point and beg for the red vine. He was completely closed off from hearing my voice or giving me the attention I asked for. If he would have simply looked he would have seen a much better option; mysterious and exciting.
It was at this point that I realized God was teaching me a great lesson. I also realized it was the perfect object lesson for a group of teen guys gathered at the bar tearing into their own flavored ice.
"Check it out guys. Riley is so determined to get something he knows that he won't give me a glance to show him something new and better. We're often the same way in our relationship with God. He desires to bless us beyond what we can imagine. He is our father who loves us more than we know and if we can take our eyes off of the things we selfishly desire He will give us opportunities we never conceived."
For some of us that's a new job or career path, for some it's a chance to receive a better education, for others it's a ministry opportunity we never dreamed about, and for others it may be owning a home for the first time. When God is our source the possibilities are unlimited. But too often we live in a very small world based on past experience where at some point we stop looking for something greater. We resign ourselves to a comfortable life attempting to avoid trouble, but at the same time missing out on what God is calling us to. We say we trust God with our lives yet resist the Holy Spirit speaking into our hearts...
I crouched down to Riley's level, put my arms around him and looked into his eyes. I spoke calmly, "Riley is want to show you something." He whined and wiggled. I picked him up and sat him on the counter top. The colors of the flavored ice grabbed his attention, his crying lessened. He pointed with an inquisitive whimper.
"That's what I've been trying to show you buddy. Would you like to try one?" He nodded yes, not fully grasping what he was agreeing to, but with a curiosity that was growing. As he grabbed a hold of the cold treat a smile began to creep over his face. He placed the snack to his lips and a contented giggle gurgled out. I just smiled and winked at the guys as they watched...