Last week, a young woman stopped by Dennis Hall and asked if she could go into the church to pray. Due to some maintenance issues in the sanctuary, I escorted her to the chapel. Because I did not know her, I was uncomfortable leaving her alone in the church, so I sat in the narthex and waited.
As our Mother’s Day Out (MDO) program ended for the afternoon, I realized I would be alone with this young woman. And while I didn’t have any concerns for safety, I knew the appropriate thing was to have someone else in the building as well. I called Pastor Brian but he did not answer, so I left a message asking him to come to the narthex. What happened next left me terribly disappointed.
Tara, our MDO director, volunteered to wait with me until the young woman had finished her prayers. Conway, her eighteen month old son, who is the coolest kid on the planet, was with her.
As we sat, visited, and waited, Conway decided he didn’t want to be cooped up in the church any longer. He got frustrated, agitated, and loud. Tara said, “Conway, do you want a snack?” Being a guy, the word snack immediately got Conway’s attention. Then the unthinkable and unforgivable happened.
Instead of pulling out a snack, Tara pulled out a bag of sliced cucumbers. I am not making this up. Conway, not knowing the cucumbers did not qualify as an appropriate snack, began happily munching away. That was the moment, my call to ministry came into focus. If I could save Conway from a life of cucumber snacks, I would have fulfilled my reason for being.
I explained to Tara that nowhere in the Bible did it say to trick our children into thinking cucumbers were snacks. Tara laughed as she tried to rationalize what she had done by saying Conway really liked cucumbers, but being the good, incredibly wise pastor that I am, I refused to believe her. Pastor Brian walked in and our painful, hurtful conversation ended.
I watched in dismay as Tara and Conway walked through the church courtyard into the parking lot. What had gone wrong with Tara? I knew I had to do something.
Later, when I saw Tara’s father, I explained what I had witnessed. Trent was justifiably horrified by his daughter’s behavior and explained she didn’t get eating cucumbers snacks from him, but even though he was ashamed, he would continue to love her. I looked at him with awe and admiration. This got me thinking.
What we teach our children matters. Sadly, Conway will probably always believe his mother’s misguided propaganda about cucumbers because that’s what he has been taught. It’s the same with religion.
If we give our children a good foundation, even if they stray for awhile, the seeds will have been planted and they will know that no matter what happens, God loves them and is always with them. Our job is to teach by what we say and what we do.
This is what Solomon meant by saying, “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 CEB)
Give your children the gift that will see them through good times and bad. Teach them about God’s love, mercy, and grace. Help them establish the one relationship that matters most.
Prayer: Dear Gracious Heavenly God, please help me be a positive influence in the lives of our children. By my attitude, words, and actions, let them see that you matter most. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
While Tara has completely botched it on the snack thing, I know she is already teaching Conway about his wonderful savior. One out of two isn’t bad.
Also, just for the record, I am going to pray that, as Conway’s father, Brian, who only eats meat and potatoes, puts his foot down and insists that Conway be given real snacks with sugar, saturated fats and everything else that tastes good.
Surely between Brian and Trent, they can help Tara see the light. If not, I am afraid Conway will be forever warped. I will keep praying for him. I ask you do the same.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.