My sister kept Asher and Levi this summer. Just like any good parent with crazy boys at home – you look for as many Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) as you can just to have a couple of hours of quiet! Levi really loves VBS! He couldn’t wait to put his shoes on and go to church! Asher on the other hand was always a little more reluctant. At the end of the second night the preacher gave an invitation to accept Jesus in your heart. As the band played “Jesus Loves Me”, the preacher invited the children to accept Jesus in his or her heart and come to the altar for prayer!
My sister was standing in the back of the church waiting for the service to end. As soon as the preacher asked the question Levi darted down the aisle and said, “I want Jesus in my heart! I want Jesus!”. A few moments later Asher ran down with the same excitement and said, “And I want a Popsicle!” Well…..you can’t win them all!
When Lori told me this story, I couldn’t help but think about this past spring when we had our Women’s Outreach Evangelism Program. We were offering all of the ladies the chance to have Jesus in their hearts. What better gift is there than that? While we did win over half of the group to Jesus – there were still quite a few who came just for the daily treats, the special attention, and well, the popsicles – so to speak. The problem with “things” is that they last today but are gone tomorrow. Doesn’t this seem weird? Why would anyone grab for a Popsicle that melts and gets so sticky when the Holy Spirit is so pure, long lasting, and eternal?
While it’s always disappointing when some of our ministry efforts come up void, I can’t fault them. You see, I’ve been there. In fact, I am there. Many times I find myself grasping at the sugar stick in place of Jesus. The last few months I have been in and out of the hospital. It’s been a tough time for my family. I have had Jesus in my heart since I was 8 years old. But in the depths of pain and anxiety, I would be lying if I said I didn’t wonder – Is He enough for me?
When we are struggling – when we have pain – when we are in despair – when we are overwhelmed – when we are anxious – when we are broken financially and spiritually, are we grasping for popsicles or do we find our strength in knowing that Christ is in our heart?
How many beggars did Jesus or the disciples encounter that would rather have a coin in their cup than healing for their infirmities? It sounds ludicrous yet it happened. In Acts 3, there was a lame beggar who saw Peter and John entering by the temple gate – Beautiful.
Immediately, the beggar asked for healing, right? WRONG! He asked for a coin. I have to think to myself, why? The beggar would have heard about the miracles of Jesus and His disciples, so I think he should’ve been able to recognize the two fairly easily. Yet, instead of asking for a miracle, he asked for a coin. Now this coin would probably feed the beggar for a day, it might have bought him medicine for his tired legs. But at best, it was a coin that would soon roll away. The purchase would be eaten or used or even stolen within the day. That’s how beggars lived—coin to coin. Even today, when is the last time you heard of a beggar saving up for a college fund?
Now, I realize, I’m a beggar too. I have the miraculous power of Jesus at my finger tips but instead of asking for divine healing of my mind, body, and soul—I just ask for temporary relief. Like Asher I just really want a Popsicle to get me down the road.
However, I do take heart for as I think about this, I realize one other thing about little Asher, the women in my program, myself, and maybe even you. While Levi immediately knew that Jesus was the best thing he could ever have….there are many of us who need the Popsicle to put us in the presence of the Lord. We need the sugar stick, the purse of goodies, the chicken dinner….
While Levi asked Jesus into his heart on the second day of VBS – by day five, Asher wasn’t just coming for the popsicles anymore. He came because he loved the people. He came because he loved the stories… he came because of Jesus. He may not have been running the aisles singing “I want Jesus!” – but he was still there. He was still in the presence of the King.
While I may not always have the mind to ask for the Divine healing that God wants to give me, Jesus is there. I am not alone. He is a balm to my sickness if not the complete healer of my soul. And for those ladies who came to our women’s conference, Jesus was their counselor for those days. They were in “His office” soaking up “His plan” for them. The Popsicle got them there… but Jesus was still in the house.
As you minister, take courage! And it really is okay to buy popsicles… because honestly why wouldn’t you do all you could to give somebody the opportunity to be in His presence.
And perhaps, after their tongue is all red and the popsicle is gone—they’ll find the real soother for their soul.
So what is your hand reaching for right now?
Categories: Personal Stories