I volunteered to help out with the fun fair by ordering the prizes since that is something I could do from home. It turned out to be a much bigger job than I expected. I’ve spent a good portion of this week pouring over catalogs and websites in pursuit of five thousand prizes for the fun fair. The church people are donating candy to be used as consolation prizes, but we still needed little toys and gee-gaws for the dozen or so games – multiplied by hundreds of kids. Our budget sounded like a lot, but I quickly discovered buying five thousand prizes with $500 wasn’t going to be easy. I’ve had experience buying these cheapie little trinkets before and have learned the hard way that some of them are so cheap they’re not worth even the few pennies they cost. I was determined to get the best value for the money, but all week long all I could think was junk, junk, junk!
Spending $500 on a bunch of junk goes against my grain. I suppose if you look at it like the money isn’t really being spent on those bits and pieces of plastic and paper, but on the fun and excitement all those little kids will get out of playing the games and winning a prize (WHOO-HOO!), then you can justify it a bit more. What looks like junk to us, though, are treasures to the kids. They love those little prizes. They can have a whole room of expensive toys at home, but they are still thrilled when they win a whistle or a play tattoo, a bottle of bubbles or a few stickers. They’ll stand forever in front of the prize displays at Chuck E. Cheese’s with a fistful of tickets, deliberating which treasures they can trade for. They’re delighted when they come home from a party with a goody bag filled with plastic prizes.
As adults, we don’t understand the attraction of these little pieces of junk. We know they’re worthless. We know they’re not going to last. We know they’re going to end up lost in the bottom of the toy box – if they don’t end up in the garbage first. But we ooh and ahh, nevertheless, when our children or grandkids come running up with their newest prize, and then shake our heads as they run off to win another treasure.
I wonder how often our Heavenly Father shakes His head as His children go running after worthless pieces of junk? That new house or new car in which we have so much pride has no value in His eyes. The great bargain I’m so excited about is nothing but ashes to Him. A fancy vacation, a closet full of new clothes, tickets to the big game or popular concert are all just junk, junk, junk to Him. Does He shake His head when we spend 99.9% of our time pursuing more, bigger, better earthly junk? Does He wonder why His children cannot see that these things have no Heavenly value at all?
We expect as our children grow and mature, they will begin to understand the true value of these cheap little prizes. They will begin to put away childish things eventually. Our Heavenly Father wants us to mature, as well, and begin to realize that this life and all the earthly things we so treasure are not all there is. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11)
Where am I in my Christian life? Have I grown beyond the baby stage, able to go beyond the milk of the Word and dig further into the meat of His Word? Am I past the little child stage where I am still more interested in playing with the pleasures of the world than I am in spiritual things? Or have I finally begun to mature and experience God’s work in my life refining me and molding me into the person He wants me to be who brings glory to Him and points others to Him as well? “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be mature, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” (Philippians 3:13-15)
It’s time to put away childish things and grow up!