My boy’s going off to camp this morning. He’s going to Christian camp with his buddies. I’m excited for him because he’s never gone to an overnight camp for a week. Generally, he goes on weekend retreats, but this is for the week. And he’s thrilled. You see, he’s earned the money himself. He has been collecting scrap metal and turning it in for money. He’s been going through our workshop collecting anything and everything that would help his cause. He’s been walking the neighborhood on recycling day and pulling aluminum cans out of the bins. We’ve had some wonderful friends donate metal to his efforts as well. He even had someone donate cash. And as of Saturday, he had more money than he needed for camp. He not only reached his goal, he surpassed it.
Requiring Nathan to earn his own way was difficult for me. As his Mom, I want to give him what he desires, especially when it pertains to spiritual growth. I don’t want him to be concerned with the logistics of it all; I just want him to concentrate on God. In my mind, I’m supposed to be able to give him these things. But what I realized was, by requiring him to earn his own way; he was forced to rely on God. He had to put the work in. But God would be the One to make it happen. If God wanted him to go to camp, He would provide. In the end, what he experienced is Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will provide). He blessed him with donations of not only metal, but also money. Here I would have just handed him the money thinking God would work while he was there. Instead, God has been working for months.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
(Matthew 7:10-12 NIV)
The gift I would have given Nathan was simply money. I wouldn’t have thought another moment about it. I would have just handed him the money he needed. But God is not only a God of end results. He’s about the journey. He desires to be included in every step of the process. I had put God in a box only to come out at camp and do His thing. Instead, God has been walking each day with Nathan providing in ways we could never have imagined. He showed Nathan that nothing is unimportant to Him when it pertains to His children. He loves us so much; He is even involved in a teenager’s efforts to earn money for camp.
I love to give my kids good gifts. I want to bless them. I love to see the smiles on their faces and the joy in their hearts when I can give them something they really want. It’s the fun aspect of parenting. The Father also takes great joy in blessing His children. But God gave Nathan something I couldn’t. He gave him the gift of dependence. He showed Nathan what it means to rely on His provision. He was real to my boy in a way I could never have shown him. You see, my son experienced God first hand. And that was the true gift here; the presence of the Holy One.