The best blog posts and sermon illustrations always come from real life. At least that’s true in my opinion. This is why I do not post to this blog multiple times a week, and sometimes I go silent for a few weeks at a time. My life is not always riveting (as difficult as that may be for some of you to believe).
But today a decision was made in my family that I think is worthy of your consideration.
My youngest daughter Keileigh expressed some interest in playing softball this season. Apparently our homeschool co-op had passed out flyers or something, and this sparked interest. Well, dummy me I thought it was a homeschool co-op thing, where maybe they would bring in someone to help teach the girls softball and let them play a bit. By the time I found out it was an actual softball league, we had already missed the deadline. But, the coach or director was willing to let us squeeze in still, if we so desired. I called him today to tell him “no thanks.” The conversation with Keileigh went something like this:
“Sweety, I have decided to not to let you play softball. Let me tell you why. First, we missed the deadline and I don’t like asking people to bend rules for us. And, to be honest, the cost is too high in both fees and lots of gas to get you to practices and games, not to mention we have to go also buy you a glove, which you don’t have. I just don’t think this is a good way for us to spend that much money, because all our money belongs to God and we have to be careful to spend it in ways that honor Him. But most of all, the time this will take away from all the other things we know God wants us to do is the reason I don’t want you to play. Multiple practices and games every week mean you cannot spend as much time playing with your sister, and going to see sick people in hospitals, and singing songs to our shut-in church members, and eating breakfast with one of our widows. This game, like most sports, takes up much more time each week than it seems like it will when you first sign up. And as fun as it may be, sweety, we just cannot become a family who places that much priority and emphasis on something that will not matter in eternity. But, what I will do is buy us a basketball goal soon and we can begin playing as a family, and maybe Mommy can plan a few times for our whole church to get together and play softball together this summer. OK?”
Keileigh’s reaction was one of childlike sadness, tempered by a genuine heart to submit to her Daddy and also keep fighting to live her life in ways that defy the world and please her Savior and King, Jesus. I know she wanted to cry a bit, but she didn’t. She was not surprised by my decision. This is a decision I have been making repeatedly with both my daughters for over 5 years now. [We did let Meaghan play softball one season about 4 years ago in North Carolina. But, when they refused to cancel a game when it was 110 degrees and 95% humidity, with little girls getting horribly sun-burned and threatening to drop of heat exhaustion, that kinda convinced us, and Meaghan too, that this was clearly not being viewed for what it is – A GAME.]
Now some of you are growing more irritated with me by the second. You are mad. You think I am accusing you of being sub-Christian if your child is in sports. Well, I am not accusing you of anything. I am merely relaying to you my thought process as a Dad who wants to lead his family to radical devotion to Christ and His people, the Church. Any honest believer must confess that sports in America is now well beyond the level of idolatry (for the majority of people, anyway). All I am urging you to do is “count the cost.”
Whoever does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:27-28)
These words from our Master often haunt me. These words from Jesus demand that His followers be willing to consider the cost of every activity of life. Can we really afford this – not just financially, but primarily spiritually?!
So, how much time do you spend each week with sports or other activities compared to the time you spend in the Word with your children, doing life together with your church family, praying, visiting widows and orphans, and gathering with the church for worship? How we spend our time and money, perhaps more than anything else in life, reveals where our treasure really is.
So, why is it that so many Christians and Church-goers today will let almost anything get in the way of genuine discipleship? Why do we move heaven and earth to get to work on time or softball practice on time but cannot seem to get up on Sunday morning to get our family to worship on time? Why is it that we would never dream of falling asleep during a briefing at work from our bosses, but we routinely sleep during sermons? Why would we not even think of allowing our children or teens to sleep through school, but we think it’s not that big a deal if they sleep or pass notes during the sermon? Why is it like pulling eye-teeth to get a small group of church members to actually commit and follow through in joining a biblical small group?
Friends, the Christian life is a war! (See Romans 7-8 and Galatians 5) We had better wake up and seek grace to get in the fight and stay there! God help us have the courage to count the cost.