Growing up, my sister and I regularly turned our beds into a sort-of marketplace. I would spread across my bed any possessions of mine I was willing to part with. My sister would do the same. Then we would spend the next 30 minutes or so trading our possessions. She would give me 2 erasers for my purple pencil. I would give her my key chain for her necklace. You get the idea.
Once in awhile she would offer me a downright bad trade, like a McDonald's straw for my favorite chapstick. After making it clear I wouldn't make such a terrible trade, she would then try to convince me with a clever pitch. Something that would have sounded a lot like this: "Renee, this is an AWESOME straw. Look at the red line going through it. It's one of the best straws in my collection."
Momentarily I might get caught up in her clever pitch and think, "Maybe this straw is awesome. That red line is pretty nice. And I would own her best straw."
Don't worry. I usually got out from underneath this nonsense and came to my senses, remembering that there is nothing awesome about a straw from McDonald's.
Like my little sister and the McDonald's straw, the world cleverly pitches some horrible trades.
Creams assured to erase fine lines and wrinkles in exchange for a lot of our money.
Popularity via social media in exchange for our privacy and personal rights.
Success and power in exchange for our time and talents.
Laughter and entertainment in exchange for any morals we might have left.
Love and companionship in exchange for our hearts.
The trouble is the creams can't combat the curse of aging,
the popularity is short-lived and shallow,
the success and power are unfulfilling and easily lost (not to mention our talents no longer feel like gifts),
the laughter and entertainment act only as a bandaid to our emotional wounds,
and the love and companionship is conditional, selfish, and heart-breaking.
None of these trade deals are good. Perhaps for a time they appear to be, but in the end we see them for the empty-nothings that they are.
Several years ago I mentored a young high school girl. She was beautiful and talented, but she had a ton of difficulty in her life (especially in her family). As a result, she had really low self-esteem. In the two years I spent time with her, she never saw herself as the treasure she truly was.
I can remember sitting at a restaurant one day with her listening to her share about a recent date she had gone on.
"He took me to the movies," she said.
"Oh yeah. Did you have a good time with him?"
"It was ok."
I could tell there was something she wasn't telling me. I asked a few more questions and she finally came out with it.
"He was sweet to me. He gave me attention. Then halfway through the movie I knew what he wanted...so I gave it to him."
She went on to tell me how she "put out" (her words). She told me what she did to him and what she let him do to her in the darkness of a movie theater.
This wasn't entirely shocking to me. I knew she struggled with healthy physical boundaries in relationships with guys. It was something we had talked a ton about.
"Why did you put out?" I asked. "I can tell by the way you talk about it that you really didn't want to."
"He paid for my movie. I owed him."
While I wasn't shocked by her actions, her reason left me speechless. It was as if she and this date of hers had played the same kind of trading game my sister and I used to play. He gave her some "sweet" attention and a movie ($8.50), she gave him physical pleasure (i.e. her physical self and her hopeful heart). And in the end she knew it was a crappy trade, a McDonald's straw kind of trade. I saw it in her face and heard it in her voice. And she knew with even more certainty when he never called to take her out again.
Here's my point: I don't want my children to succumb to the world's clever pitches, and trade themselves for the empty-nothings the world has to offer. I've traded parts of myself for a few of these empty-nothings and so I know how crappy they truly are.
But I've also made the best trade of all. I've taken the gift of love, grace, and life from Jesus Himself in exchange for my whole heart, the deepest parts of my soul, and all my mind. Ours was a costly, and highly valuable deal for both parties. But friends, it's been the deal of a lifetime. And I'm not just feeding you "Sunday School Bull Crap." I'm genuinely and sincerely saying it was a really good deal.
Jesus has breathed life into every facet of my being and none of the world's trade offers could ever compare.
I so desperately desire for my kids to go the marketplace with Jesus and say YES to His trade offer. And I suspect if you are reading this you likely feel the same about your own kids. So let's pray God's Word over them concerning this.
You said that You came so that we "might have life and have it to the fullest" (John 10:10). I pray my kids would choose life with You. I pray they would love You as You demonstrated with a love that encompasses "all of their heart, all of their soul, and all of their mind" (Luke 10:27a). May they see and know in their hearts that the "world and its desires pass away" (1 John 2:17). May they say YES to Your "gift of eternal life" (Romans 6:23) and no to the empty-nothings this world has to offer.