My friend and I took my 6-year-old to the local community carnival yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, it was down the road, and it had every component of fun: being together, carnival rides, pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, bouncy house, rednecks to watch, free admission, etc. We had a wonderful time together. After two hours of standing in lines, riding rides, walking around – I could tell that my son was thirsty. Really thirsty. Besides water, I know of no better thirst quencher than Rita’s water ice – a favorite of mine for years since Rita’s began near my home town in Philadelphia, PA.
Since he is unemployed at the moment, I treated him to his favorite flavor, Green Apple. Moments after the order, our conversation went something like this:
- Me: “Hey buddy. How is it?”
- Him: “Greeeeat!” (said with the same enthusiasm as Tony the Tiger)
- Me: “Can I have a little taste?”
- Him: “Um, no thank you.”
- Me: “Why not? (There is no reply. Just a constant shoveling of water ice in his mouth.)
- Me: “Come on, just one bite. It looks so good.”
- Him: “It’s great. If you wanted one, you should have bought one.”, he says smiling.
- Me: “I did buy one. I thought we could share, that’s why I got a medium size!”
- Him: “Dad, come on – it’s sooo good. If I have any left at the end, you can have some.”
- Me: “Gee thanks”, I say with a smirk.
- Me: “Can I hold your water ice while you go on the next ride?”
- Him: “Nice try, Dad.”
The truth is, I didn’t really want a taste. I was thrilled that he was happy and satisfied. I bought the whole thing for him and just wanted to see his reaction to my question. As we drove home, I pondered his stingy-ness. Without me, he wouldn’t even have that water ice. I don’t think he was pondering anything but water ice and how to keep it out of my reach.
Here is what I realized – painful as it is to admit:
Like most negative traits in a child’s life, they learned it from a parent. But which one?? Since his mom is more generous than I am, I knew this one was my fault. But, (I began to rationalize) when do they not see me share? I feel like I share everything with everyone. I don’t feel stingy in my heart. I’m quick to offer what I have to anyone who needs it, especially my children. Feeling pretty good about my track record of sharing, I had a silent conviction come over me.
- God: “You don’t share with Me.”
- Me: “When do I not… nevermind.”
I found myself mentally arguing with God. I have come to learn this is a futile exercise. I always lose this discussion as I realize His mountain of evidence against me is a rather quick and embarrassing checkmate.
In every area of my life, God provides for my daily needs and I often refuse to give Him a taste in return. I’m too interested enjoying the refreshment of His blessing while He wants me to simply acknowledge the Blesser. I do share well with others – just not Him. When God provides me with the strength/ability to produce a paycheck, all He asks for is 10% in return. God doesn’t need my money. He knows I need to give it. God doesn’t care that I own the money – He wants to make sure the money doesn’t own me. And even if I were to consistently tithe my income (give 10% back to the church, charity, etc), He reminded me that I don’t share enough of me with Him.
In the ten minute ride home – God reminded me of my love for my kids. It wasn’t audible but the impression on my heart was clear:
“Rod, you love being with your kids. You love hearing their voice, hearing their stories. You love the late night talks, I provide. You love walking with them, playing with them. You love their questions. You love their thought process. You love hearing about their joys and helping them through their pains. You love when they need your help. You love when they want to sit next to you or hold your hand. You love watching them while they sleep and watching them as they play. And as you love all this with them, I love doing all that with you. You may not withhold certain things from Me, but you often withhold your heart.”
God wants me to share life with Him, the good and the bad. The fun and the difficult. And too often, I’m only willing to give Him “whatever is left at the end.” Like my son’s water ice, there is usually nothing left over at the end.
Rita’s reminded me of something yesterday. This is why God asks for our first-fruits. And when we give Him our leftovers – it reveals more about us than we would care to admit.
As we pulled into the driveway, I hear this sweet little voice from the back seat, “Here you go, Daddy“. Was my son actually going to share with me??? Disappointedly, my son was handing me his empty Rita’s cup and spoon. He was handing me his trash.
I got the lesson. First fruits. No leftovers. No trash.
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of ALL your crops..” – Proverbs 3:9 (emphasis mine)