First, full disclosure: I do not have kids.
Over the course of life I have helped raise many as a nanny and am P.A.N.K. (Professional Auntie No Kids) to three nephews and four nieces as well as Aunt Chelle to many wee ones across the country. It’s fun. And, while there was a time that I wept over whether or not I would ever rock a baby to sleep, I now embrace this life that God has given me whole-heartedly. I even consider it a “bonus” that I get to sleep in and eat ice cream for breakfast if I want to!
All that said, interesting that God would give me this little nugget of insight into the whole parenting thing.
First, a bit of context: I’m a fundraiser. A common saying shared among those in my profession is “you can’t take it with you.” Or, if you prefer, a more picturesque version, “you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.” So out of nowhere one day last fall, I began thinking about this: other than STUFF, what else do we try to store up here on earth?
The answer was almost immediate…Memories. Think about it. We keep diaries that help us cling to relationships and experiences of the past. We work to create perfect moments with our significant others so that we can reflect on them at some point down the road. We put ourselves in debt and emotional distress planning for summer camps, over-the-top birthday parties and family vacations. We painstakingly (and expensively!) put together scrapbooks and keepsake boxes to someday pass along.
Here’s the thing (and I’m not 100% sure of this Biblically but, as a Christian, I just feel like it makes sense given the whole living out eternity in the presence of Jesus thing), we don’t take our stuff with us and I don’t think we take our memories either. Now don’t get me wrong, just like it isn’t bad to give your kids stuff, it isn’t bad to want to create great experiences for them. But what if instead of the goal of “making memories,” we focused on investing in our kids those things that have eternal value? Things that shape who they are and how they relate to others. Things that impact the world around them. Things like: kindness, compassion, patience, joy, sacrifice.
What if we thought of this like a conscientious parent planning for a child’s education even when that child is just months old? That little one has no concept of the value of money being socked away paycheck after paycheck. But one day, 18 or so years from now, they will be presented with a gift that will greatly benefit their future. What if it was like that with eternity?
The Bible talks about the receipt of crowns in Heaven:
The Imperishable Crown – (1 Cor. 9:24-25)
The Crown of Rejoicing – (1 Thes. 2:19)
The Crown of Righteousness – (2 Tim. 4:8)
The Crown of Glory – (1 Pet. 5:4)
The Crown of Life – (Rev. 2:10)
(I’m not implying that we should “work” to receive them, by the way).
I’m just saying, we have the opportunity to contribute to the “bank” of a child’s character and values. By encouraging them at every opportunity to be more like Jesus, we are investing in their spiritual future – their likelihood of receiving those crowns. One day everything on this earth will pass away and that child will stand before God. So will we. Are we storing up for them things that will matter? Trips to Mega Amusement Park World are nice, but they won’t take photos of cartoon characters into eternity. Showing kindness and gentleness and patience at the theme park – that, they will.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys,
and where thieves do not break in or steal. Matt. 6:20