As I was driving home earlier today, I engaged in a seemingly too-frequent act of self-obsessed pondering about my lack of cool “toys”. Many of my friends and many more acquaintances have all those new gadgets and time-wasters/savers that seem to be all the rage. I am sure I would use them for good effect — to have all my contacts available at will — to learn foreign languages while on the road or out doing little else. And the games, well, they’re just fun and enjoyable time-users.
I remembered as a child the really neat toys that I wanted. The G.I. Joe Aircraft Carrier would have been so awesome! A customized tree house/play set to go on imaginary journeys and secret myself in a hideout for hours on end. At one point, I desperately wanted a “Trash 80” computer (TRS 80) which I had learned to use in middle school. Oooo, and then there were those compact laptop computers carried by Radio Shack. I wanted all of those toys so bad and many, many others.
I never got most of them, and I’m thankful now that I didn’t. I recognize that getting all the things you want can lead to a fat life full of self and devoid of understanding of true want, real need and compassion for others.
I do not want to misrepresent myself here. I am pretty happy in my life and understand that I have chosen to give up certain things to lead the life I lead. At times though, the questions rise up and the desire for “things of this world” rears its all-too-often ugly, yet embarrassingly real head.
As I contemplated these things, however, the following thoughts occurred to me:
Each of the things I want costs money. I would have to spend something on them. What then am I spending my money on now that I would have to change?
House, utilities, food and clothes (for five kids and two adults), medical bills, toys for the kids and the like.
None of these things are “toys” for me. Where’s my smart phone or tablet computer? Why can’t “I” have a “Gamer’s” game console or a PC dedicated to high end graphics and video game play? Why should I not have a super zippy fun sports car to fly through traffic?
Then, through the fog of selfish these thoughts, a still, small voice spoke into the recesses of my soul… “I gave you something better than toys. I gave you children.”
My mind stopped its deep questing for a moment and lay silent. You know… if I stopped looking at my children as obligations (which I truly don’t “only” do)… if I took each one of them and reacted to them as the most awesome toys ever given to anyone, then perhaps my entire perspective on the joys of life might be fundamentally altered.
You see, no computer can do the cool things my kids can do. They can imagine games instantaneously that put to shame any computer game ever devised. They can outperform any robot in abilities to move, run, jump, follow orders, be creative, etc. They have the potential to be soldiers, doctors, ministers, leaders, mothers, fathers, that make any imaginary heroes life pale in comparison. They can learn from me and teach me. And most importantly of all, they love me — not just in return for the love I give them but in spite of me.
And one cool bonus, I get to keep them as my children forever, and one day I hope to call them friends, boon companions as well as fellow-heirs in Christ.
One last “cool” note: As I sit typing this piece, the song “Treasure” from the album Beyond These Shores by Iona is playing in the background. In it is quoted a tidy bit of Scripture, “Where your treasure is, there is your heart.” Where is our treasure? Do we value the gifts God gives, even when they might not be just what we thought we wanted?
I hope you do. I pray I will not only treasure these incredible God-given toys, but that I might embrace each moment with them as a chance to enjoy God’s riches in glory through these little pieces of joy handed to me for such a short time.
God bless you.