It's early in the morning, dark outside, and I sit here in the quiet of my living room, noticing -- really noticing --our fireplace shelves. Autographed baseballs. Bats. Books. Pictures. Trophies. Each with a special memory of its own.
But this morning my thoughts are not about the accomplishments behind each prize. Instead, they are focused on what would happen if God handed out "spiritual" trophies. You know, a cross for every person I spontaneously had told about Jesus, a medal for those occasions when I'd trusted God completely without worrying or complaining, a special stone for times when I was an anonymous blessing to others. How much dusting would I be doing? Would the clutter be so deep that I would need to pack some of my awards away because there was no more room for them to be displayed?
More importantly, was I even asking the right questions? After all, those prizes would be about me, selfish, self-seeking me, but how many spiritual mementos would be on the mantels of those I had discipled? How many baby Christians had I taken under my wing and lead into a deeper walk with our Savior so that they could do likewise with others? So that their mantels, too, would be full?
We are to ready others for the future. Good parents do that. So do good employers and good teachers. Proverbs 22:6 says to "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he grows old he shall not depart from it." We are to invest in the next generation.
Moses did his part. He prepared Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, but Joshua prepared no one, and chaos followed until the Jewish nation demanded a king so that it could be like everyone else.
Even then, things weren't so hunky dory. Read the Old Testament. Except for a few faithful prophets and an occasional God-fearing king, Israel's roller coaster ride of disobedience and recovery are not our snapshot for spiritual living.
But then came Jesus (Hallelujah!) whose entire mission was to save the lost. I'm so grateful Jesus determined to teach the importance of training others to spread the gospel. His faithful few spent their lives paving the way for others to pave the way for others who would -- well, you get the point.
And now, here we are, generations later, but instead of investing in others' spiritual growth, too many of us stay comfortable, enjoying the bragging rights our own mantel displays instead of understanding that we have been called to so much more.
This morning's quiet time with God is not going in the direction I had intended. Appreciating the sports memorabilia on my living room shelves was so much less demanding than where my thoughts had taken me.
The truth is, if trophies were handed out for those I had mentored, really poured my life into, I'm afraid my shelves would look nothing like they do now. I think my next prayer time will take place in the kitchen. It's much safer there.