It's ironic that I wrote about having a healthy family yesterday because I spent all of yesterday morning in the doctor's office with my oldest. She's been having horrible pain in her heel, so much that she can barely walk. Turns out she has a condition called Sever's Syndrome, which is caused by her bones in her leg growing faster than her Achilles tendon. Wearing cleats as much as she does aggravates the tendon and causes pain. The prescribed cure is rest, ice, stretching and Advil. She's ok with the ice, stretching and Advil, but when the doctor told her she couldn't play soccer for a week, she looked the doctor in the eye and said "That is unacceptable."
In thinking over that response, besides the fact that it makes me smile, it made me wonder how often we tell God that something that He asks us to do is "unacceptable." We tend to get settled in our own comfort zone, busy with whatever activities to which we feel God has called us, and think that we should stay there -- forever. Sometimes God wants to use our service in certain ministries and activities to prepare us for the next thing He has planned, but when He asks us to move on, we tell him "That is unacceptable." When we do that, not only are we missing out on the blessings that God has for us in the new task He has for us, but we are robbing someone else of the opportunity to be blessed by taking over the role we are leaving behind.
It's important that we train our children that when they leave one thing behind, they are simply making room for more blessings. My youngest daughter and I gave up Girl Scouts this year. I was her troop leader, and I really enjoyed it, but she decided that Girl Scouts was not for her. She wanted more time to do other things, like play hockey. While it was a tough decision to make, looking at our schedule this fall, I can see that God moved that off our schedule so that both she and I would have time for other things that He had in mind.
When you or your child has a tough decision to make about activities or ministries, take a deep breath and work through it together.
- Pray about it. Remember Philippians 4:6 says "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God." God wants to hear about how torn you are over the decision. He wants to be able to show you what He has planned for you. Pray with your child so he has an example of how to pray about his decisions.
- Remind your child that even though it may seem she is leaving behind something that is good, she is replacing it with something that is better. If God calls you to do something, it is always better than doing something you are not called to do. Illustrate this by giving your child a piece of watermelon or some other fruit that they like. Ask them what they like about the watermelon. Then, offer to trade their watermelon for a slice of chocolate cake or other sweet treat. Ask them if they would be willing to trade the watermelon, which they probably think is good, for the chocolate cake, which they will probably think is better. You can do this illustration with food or trading a small toy for a larger one. Be sure to emphasize that sometimes God asks us to trade something that we think is good for something that He knows is better.
- Seek outside counsel. If you or your child feel like you are being called to do something different, ask other Christians what they think about the idea. Usually, God will confirm what He has called you to do through the wise counsel of others. Encourage your children to ask the opinions of other trusted adults -- their children's director, their Sunday School teacher or the Christian parent of a friend who knows them well. Learning to seek wise counsel at a young age will help them when they are faced with big decisions later in life.
Most importantly, remember that when God calls, He expects us to follow. Don't let your or your child's fear of leaving your comfort zones have you saying to God "That is unacceptable." You don't want to miss out on the blessings He has for you.