Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's in your box?

The other day, my four-year-old son, John Curtis came into my room with arms wrapped around a cardboard box that he uses to tote small toys around the house. He joyfully declared, “Dad, look what’s in my box.” Fully expecting to see a pile of his favorite toys or, because it’s John Curtis, a bug or two, I was completely caught off guard when I looked into his box and saw cash – lots of cash. John Curtis, looked up at me with a smile, and said proudly “I’ve been good at finding money today.”

“John Curtis, where did you get this money?!” I asked. It was way more money than he had in his piggy bank. I was sure of that.

The tone of my voice must have clued him in that I was not happy. His smile disappeared, his head lowered, and his will to speak disappeared.

“John Curtis, I have to know where you got this money, so that we can put it back. We can’t go around taking other people’s money.”

John Curtis admitted that some of it had come from his piggy bank, but not all of it. Some he reluctantly confessed had come from his sister’s bank. “O.K.,” I said, “and where did the rest come from?” Like I said, there was a lot of cash in that box. Minutes passed. Finally, he walked over to where my wife keeps her extra cash and held a finger out indicating the final victim of his crime spree.

After returning all the money to its rightful owners, we had a long talk about what it means to respect each other’s property and about the honest ways we can “find money” each day.

I was recounting this story to a friend, when she wisely noted, “At least he came and showed you the box. Sounds to me like he was looking for some kind of indication about whether or not this was a good thing to do.”

Her comment got me thinking, how often do I bring my box to my heavenly Father for review. “Hey God, look what I did today. Look what’s in my box.” How often do I bring before him what I think is a good thing I’ve done, just to make sure?

“Look how good I was at defending my honor today.”

“Look how good I was at getting revenge.”

“Look how good I was at getting what’s mine.”

“Look how good I was at playing it safe.”

If I’m honest, I don’t do that very often. Mainly, because I’ve got a few years on John Curtis, and I know that often what I think is good God does not. God looks in my box and says, “You were very good at that today. Unfortunately, that’s not something we want to be good at.” Who, really, wants to have those kinds of conversations? John Curtis didn’t enjoy the correction he received. But, how else can we learn God’s ways? We aren’t perfect, but God has promised to make us so. The only way for that to happen is for some correction to happen along the way. The good news is that we can trust that God’s correction will be full of the grace and compassion of a loving Father as he points us in the direction of true life.

I want John Curtis to keep trusting me enough to be willing to show me what’s in his box. If that’s the case, I’ll need to model the way by trusting God enough to keep showing him what is in mine.

“God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” – Hebrews 12:10-11


D. McCullough said...

I loved this story! You need to use all your kid stories quickly! They will not appreciate you sharing their escapades and lessons when they recognize you are using them as examples. Good parenting is so analagous to the God/people relationship. Thanks for sharing this again with the broader public.

Taylor said...

Thanks! I've already stopped using Sophie as an example without her permission. I'll have to start doing that soon with JC especially when he starts a attending "big church."

Victor said...

Great story! Hope all is well with you and your family!