Chicago was a last minute decision. We’d been talking for several weeks about a possible road trip. Knowing Nils would be away on his mission trip, and Luke in Nebraska visiting a friend. And maybe this would be a good opportunity to show Felipe and Jimmy something new. Canada or Mount Rushmore. Or maybe Chicago. We could do Chicago in a weekend.
They jumped at the idea. Especially Felipe. Even though it’s easy to see he’s a nature lover at heart, this boy possesses a wild obsession for our American cities, and the bigger the better.
So Chicago is was. A good opportunity to see some sights and meet new cousins in route. So we packed our bags, and packed our itinerary, too – parks and aquarium, the zoo and a sky-deck view of the city. But two memories in particular will stand out for the boys. First, midnight drag races right outside our hotel room window. (Not legal, and this will tell you something about the location of our overpriced accommodations.) And a second related highlight – a walkthrough visit to a luxury car dealership, Chicago style.
It was there, watching boys (and not just my own) ogle over cars worth more than my house, that it struck me. And not for the first time. We walk a fine line.
Last week, before Chicago, I’d been working on a project at church. Writing script and creating video to use for ministry. And the theme? Encouraging parents to lead kids toward contentment and generosity.
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19
So standing there in that glitzy showroom, slick Chicago dealers of who-knows-what eying us from across the room, this scripture comes flooding back, and it’s all I can think about. Command those who are rich. Not to be arrogant. Not to hope in wealth. To be rich in good deeds. Willing to share.
And I’m torn. Torn between wanting to be there with my boys, to enter their world, to love where they are. Yet wanting to show them something else. The life that is truly life.
Are we doing it? Enough?
Here’s the irony. We welcome these boys as our sons. We invest in something other than wealth. Hoping, at least, to put into action this life that is truly life. And then. We fill their heads with dreams. Fill their lives with stuff. And if they’re confused, it’s no wonder. It’s no wonder they demand more than thank. It’s no wonder they think Dad’s pockets are bottomless. And he’s asked the question more than once. Am I benefactor or father?
And don’t you just think this might be a question on the heart of our heavenly Father, too?
Ah. We wondered if it was the right thing to do. If this trip was really worth it. Even though it was fun, and the boys have hundreds of pictures to prove it. Everywhere we went they captured memories on phones, right up to the sunset over the freeway driving west back toward home.
It was the drive home that made the difference. Four of us in close quarters and for a period of time conversation took the place of smartphones. And we talked. About them. What they like. What they miss. Who they are. And it was good. Worth it.
Jimmy swears he’ll never live in Chicago. Too much traffic for driving, and too much scary for walking. He likes the suburbs. Already.
This morning I’m back on my porch in the quiet. Spending time with my Father. Who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. And I think of an earthly father who’s doing the same. Will they get it? Does it matter? Now? Someday?
Do good. Be rich in good deeds. Be generous and willing to share.
Lay up treasure for the coming age.
Take hold of the life that is truly life.
And, by the way. Thanks, Dad, for a great weekend.