We used to have it all. (Whatever that means.)
A happy marriage and children. My husband had a great career and was moving up the corporate ladder, and we were saving and giving and dumping a little extra every month into his 401K for that elusive retirement dream.
Then there was the lovely home on 2 wooded acres, two vehicles, and (even though we’ve always been frugal and enjoyed a good bargain) everything we needed and then some.
When God called us to South Africa to be missionaries, my husband and I willingly (and even somewhat gladly) sold everything and moved into our travel trailer to begin the fund-raising aspect of this ministry.
I can honestly say that I don’t miss the “stuff” and I still feel like I have it all. 🙂
But, children being children and all (with less ability to understand or appreciate the vision behind giving up their stuff), the process of giving up things was a great deal harder on them than it was on us.
God had a glorious work to do in our children’s lives, and He taught a valuable lesson of FAITH through THE LEGO LAND MIRACLE.
The first six months of deputation and life on the road were very hard on us financially. We lived off church love offerings and had no way to predict what our income would be each week. Most churches don’t have missionaries in to speak near Christmas, so late December found us parked at a children’s home in Florida with no meetings (and therefore no income).
We sat our children down and told them that there would be no Christmas this year.
I had a difficult time with that.
I knew they had given up so much already and my mother’s heart just wanted to spoil them at least a little for Christmas.
Instead, I was trying to figure out how to feed them.
We were in sunny Florida, though, and trying our best to count our blessings. As it turned out, everywhere you turn in certain parts of Florida, there are children’s attractions. From putt-putt golf to museums to giant theme parks, there are “fun” places everywhere!
“Daddy, can we go THERE?!?” we would inevitably hear every time we went somewhere.
Then there was the day we drove by Lego Land for the first time.
I mean, little boys, legos, and rides, ya’ll. The reaction was inevitable.
They all got excited as they watched the roller coasters swirl and spin and as they arched their backs to look out the window at the gigantic signs detailing the incredible-ness of the theme park.
“Oh, Daddy! Can we pppllleaaasse go to Lego Land??!??”
I choked back the tears as we gently explained that Lego Land would cost our family about six hundred dollars and there was absolutely NO WAY we would be able to go to Lego Land this
They quieted down, except for six year old Noah. He continued to talk (and talk and talk) about Lego Land for days.
I was washing dishes the day I overheard the following conversation. Noah had asked (again) why we couldn’t go to Lego Land.
Brent answered, “Buddy, sometimes we get to do really fun things, and we are thankful! And sometimes we can’t do fun things and need to be thankful then, too. Now, God could give you tickets to Lego Land if He wanted to…..so why don’t you pray and see what He says?”
I have to keep it real here, friends. I thought my husband was big-time crazy for suggesting to our children that they PRAY about Lego Land tickets. Like I said, we were barely scraping by and I just KNEW that Brent was setting the children up for failure…cause no way was God going to give them tickets to a theme park.
“Honey, you KNOW they aren’t going to get tickets! Why would you tell them to pray about this? You should have told them NO and left it at that.”
Yeah. Not the best supportive wife moment. 🙂
Christmas came and went and no tickets. In fact, six weeks went by and I had all but forgotten about Lego Land, until late one night when Noah came into our room in tears.
“I’ve been praying and praying and God hasn’t given me tickets to Lego Land yet!”
I opened my mouth to begin explaining how God doesn’t always answer our prayers with a “yes”, but Brent answered Noah first.
“Buddy, just keep praying. God is listening even when you don’t hear Him.”
I waited until Noah went back to bed before
nagging reminding my husband that God was NOT going to give our children tickets to Lego Land just because they prayed for them. Because tickets are a want, not a need. And wasn’t he setting them up to be disappointed with GOD?
The very next day, the pastor of the church where we were sharing our ministry approached our family and said, “Do you think your children would enjoy Lego Land? Because we have a couple in our church that both work there. They have offered free tickets for your entire family for Tuesday. And if you get there right at 10 am, they will meet you at the front gate and get you into the park without even having to pay the parking fee.”
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
Did we think our children would enjoy Lego Land? 🙂
I choked back tears for the second time, only this time I wasn’t struggling with disappointment. I was ashamed at my lack of faith.
You see, God took away my ability to bless my children for Christmas and then lavished them with more than I had in my ability to give them anyway!
It is absolutely true that our heavenly Father doesn’t exist to give us everything we want and sometimes He says NO to our desires because He has a greater plan.
But on that sunny Tuesday in January, when we walked into Lego Land completely paid for (even down to the tiniest details like PARKING), God answered a little boy’s prayer and blessed the entire family exceeding abundantly above all that I could have ever hoped for. Just because He CAN. Because He’s awesome like that.
I could tell you story after story of how God has grown our family’s FAITH these past two years, but today I wanted to remind us of the importance of having faith like a little child. The Christian walk is never a straight path from salvation to heaven. Instead, there are glorious mountaintop experiences, and painfully deep valleys, trials (where we can’t seem to find God) that teach us to trust HIM, and unexpected blessings to encourage us that He is right there in the midst of us.
And every once in awhile, just when you feel your FAITH is weak, God throws out a miracle.
Our miracle came in the form of a little boy’s answered prayer.
And tickets to Lego Land.
Noah, the little boy who prayed.