SHOPPING FOR HEARTS
Jane M. Phinney | Nov. 25, 2019
I’m feeling the holiday season descending full force. Typically, I close my eyes to the late summer/early fall Christmas displays in stores. I find it irritating! I mean, why we can’t just enjoy special days in order, one at a time? Presently, my calendar countdown is blatantly reminding me of the time I don’t have left to complete some standing traditions amidst the maintenance of daily living. Things tend to “snowball” at the end of the year naturally, like it or not. At least, that’s what I thought last night when we discovered a wet floor from a broken spin cycle in the washing machine.
There’s no soothing balm for this older soul like spending time with children. Any age will do. Babies offer a fresh perspective on life by virtue of the fact they are a visible miracle. As they grow, a progressive ability to communicate removes any preconceived notions we might have about what’s going on in their minds, despite the age differences between us. They notice details we might take for granted. For the most part, they intuitively know who they can, & cannot, trust. They ask spontaneous questions & are “experts” at spouting straight-forward answers. It’s a wonder how observant they are! I was reminded of all these things when 3 of our middle grands stayed with us for 10 days this month. Our normally quiet house was buzzing with activity. And we loved it! Reading books together, visits to the park, helping with household tasks, food prep, creative crafts, lessons/discussions at mealtimes, special “dates,” laughter & some great movies…ALL of it was invigorating to my soul.
These days, I think kids are somewhat devalued & taken for granted. Parents (& even grandparents) can be too busy to really enjoy the fleeting formative years. We erroneously think there’s more time. There’s not. Often seen as an inconvenience, impressionable hearts are left in the care of a technological babysitter. Time is a valued commodity given to other demanding intruders before it’s given to children. I always remind young moms not to bemoan the investment of time & energy in raising their babes. Life has seasons. You BLINK. And they’re gone! But in Truth, what I think doesn’t hold a candle to the value that God places on His heritage, His gifts…our kids & grandkids.
The Old & New testaments are like bookends revealing how to carefully preserve these future generations. The teachings are reflective of God, our Father, & His parenting care for us. “When they ask” (OT) admonishes us to be ready with answers that teach of God’s faithfulness, whenever children approach us. The implication here is that we are actively listening 24/7. If you’re not a listener, you more than likely gravitate toward dominating conversation. And there’s no better way to lose someone’s attention than by nonstop talking. I once heard a teacher say that if you lose a child’s ears, you’ve lost their heart. I think that’s true for most all of us. So tuning people out ought not to be an option, even when it seems inconvenient. For me, someone listening is one of the ways I feel most loved. Thankfully, our Father never turns away our questions. He values our hearts & waits for us to ask because He has the answers we need. He is our secure & safe place. Children should never be ridiculed or made to feel like that their inquiries are bothersome or stupid. Questions are the springboard to life-changing understanding. Are your adult ears open? (See Deuteronomy 4, 32, & Ps 78 for starters.)
In the gospels, Jesus’ attitude is clear…“Let them come.” His heart was alert & His arms open wide to welcome children. In fact, He rebuked the disciples for deterring the approaching children. Instead, Jesus laid hands on them & prayed over them. When the disciples asked who was the greatest in heaven, Jesus drew their attention to the unassuming attitude of the children around Him, telling the disciples that they should convert (to turn), humble themselves & become like the young ones they were observing. Only then would they be able to enter heaven. In closure, Jesus revealed some harsh consequences for those who knowingly cause a child to stumble! Children are not to be despised. Read about it in Matthew 18;1-11 & 19:13-15. In like manner, God our Father desires us to come to Him in child-like faith & dependency. His arms are open. But we are required to set aside/lose our preconceived ideas of success & value…attained outside of a personal relationship with Christ through His Spirit.
Especially during this designated season of giving, remember that unless there’s a heart connect, gift-giving can become rote. If your motivation to buy is an intentional substitute for time, both you & the recipient lose. Money couldn’t buy the moments I had with my grands this week. The giggles, hugs, cuddles, hand holding, tears, prayers, eye contact, teaching moments…all eternal investments, stored up incorruptible to God’s glory. They say eyes are the windows to the soul. Much can be said without words, so open your heart & give yourself. No doubt… gifts are fun! But your time is a priceless investment & expression of love. Family, friends, & children are waiting to ask you questions, to be invited into your life. God always seeks hearts first. We should too.
Shop for hearts, all year long, not just during the holidays.