I have three children and my middle child proves everyday to be my most difficult. She is strong willed and the best word I can come up with to describe her is fierce. She follows her heart and fights for what she believes in, she is strong. Now, these sound like incredible qualities that most people strive for on a daily basis but my daughter is five and for a five year old that doesn’t quite understand how the world works yet these qualities have to be refined. One day she will change the world but today she is learning how to pick her battles.
Last year we tried cheer camp and she went through the week long camp and it came time to do her little performance and she wasn’t having it. She was not going to get out there and show us what she had learned, not for anything in the world. In fact, my dad offered to buy her a Barbie if she would just get out there and she replied “I have enough Barbies but thank you.” The week after cheer camp came dance sign ups, I told the dance instructor that I was concerned about paying the recital fees if she wouldn’t get out there considering the experience we just had with cheer camp. Her instructor assured me that she would have eight months with her and that she had very few children ever in her career that had gotten stage fright. At this point I’m thinking to myself, “That will be my child, she will be the next one that gets stage fright,” but I took her every week for eight months and she got out there the day of recital and showed the world what she had learned. I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of her, but the lights were out and she couldn’t see the crowd, as far as she knew it was just like being in class. This week we’re in cheer camp again and I’m faced with that same strong willed child who is telling me that she will not get out there and do her performance. This morning I was getting ready for work and thinking to myself if I should even put either one of us through it, should I just let her not participate but then that oh so sweet, still, small voice whispered to me, “What if today is the day she finds the courage to do something she’s never done before.” It stopped me in my tracks.
I have a friend who isn’t sure about God or that He exists and told me one time that her problem with religion is that it’s a reward system. Do good things, trust Christ, believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and you get to go to heaven. My dear friends i used to have a similar mindset, I’ve never doubted that God was real and I’ve never believed that my works get me into heaven. I’ve always known that I had to trust that Jesus was God’s Son and I accepted Him into my heart when I was nine years old. I did not understand the love that the Father has for me. I felt like He was just waiting for me to sin so he could punish me and that I would only receive blessings if I did something good. Friends that is NOT how it works. God has been working extremely hard on me the last few years, my mindset has shifted and my heart has changed. I come to you today to tell you that being a follower of Christ is not a rewards system. Do we, as parents, give our children a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and clothes on their backs because they have done something to deserve those things? Absolutely not, we do it because they are our children and we love them. We have pride in our children, we cheer for them when they do great things, and we hurt with them when they’re learning the tough lessons that life throws at us. Don’t you know God is our Father and he has the same heart for us that we have for our children? We are made in the image of Christ, God gave us the ability to love our children more than we love ourselves and that is the same way Christ feels about us, even more than that He sent His Son to die for US!
What I want to encourage you to do today is have strength, if you’ve given up on yourself, if you can’t find the courage to forgive someone who has done wrong to you, if you are sad and you can’t find the strength to get out of bed, if you are overweight and can’t find the strength to change, if God is calling to let Him into your heart and you’re not listening, if God is calling you to serve Him and you’re not listening because you’re scared you have a heavenly Father who loves you and cheers for your victories. Just as I swelled with pride when my daughter faced her fears at her dance recital and just as I am giving her the chance to find her strength by doing her cheer camp performance there is a God in heaven cheering you on. I can just picture Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, leaning over to Him and saying, “WHAT IF TODAY IS THE DAY THAT SHE TRUSTS US TO GIVE HER THE STRENGTH TO DO THINGS SHE’S NEVER DONE.” Have courage my friend.