I swore I wasn’t going to write another article that mentioned the price of gasoline. It was more like taking an oath than actually swearing . . . although I admit that I have come close to that when I paid more than $4 a gallon to fill up my car.
Gas prices are also creating a great challenge for our mission work. The economy is affecting us as much as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 did. We keep getting the same report from teams serving all across the world: “Charges for gasoline, extra bags, even having bags have eaten into our mission budget.” When we make purchases in our office, we ask a question that keeps everything in perspective: “Do we buy new carpet, a new computer or Bibles?” Usually . . . Bibles win. Now we are asking ourselves the question, “Do we buy gas or Bibles?”
I love the wisdom of the old African-American pastor who listened as I told him all about my disappointments and challenges. With the heart of a pastor, this kindly old man said, “I was just checking with the Holy Trinity this morning and they haven’t called an emergency meeting over your life yet.” That statement put things into perspective, too. God knew from eternity past where I would be right now, and He knew about the challenges that were coming my way. I know that by His grace, we will continue finding ways to send students to do mission work all around the world.
As I look beyond my ministry and myself, I am asking God to help you parents through these challenging days. I know that many of your children have gotten used to receiving anything they want to have, going anywhere they want to go and doing anything they want to do. Mom and Dad may have to inform them that the resources are no longer there. Yes, the members of this generation will go kicking and screaming into the future as they learn-many of them, for the first time-to live “without.”
On the other hand, many of you Messenger readers already belong to the “without” generation. Our parents never took us to Disney World. We were lucky to see the world in National Geographic . . . and we had to get sick to do that. Our parents never bought us a car. We had to work to buy our own . . . and the list goes on and on.
Even though we lived “without,” did we have fun? You bet! I often think of the great times I had growing up with my family and the neighborhood kids. You see, you don’t need gasoline to have a good time. In fact, you don’t need to go anywhere. In these days of high prices, I am encouraging parents and grandparents to reach back to their childhood and reintroduce some of the games we used to play.
The other day, I asked a group of young men if they could guess my favorite game when I was growing up. Without hesitation, they responded, “King of the Hill!” Of course, they were right. They immediately began talking about how much fun it was to charge up a hill and try to take down the “king.”
Yes, this is a “man” game. When God was in the process of creating the “man” part of mankind, I believe He instilled in us the desire to be “king of the hill.” Inside every man is a lion, and that lion needs to . . . roar. As I was sharing this with my young friends, every one of them was nodding his head. Perhaps these days of high gas prices are the perfect time to teach your children (especially your sons) to play “King of the Hill.”
Another of my favorite childhood games was Annie Over. To play it, two or more children stood on opposite sides of the house. One yelled, “Annie Over” and threw a small rubber ball over the roof. The object of the game was to bounce the ball over the roof in such a way that the other team couldn’t catch it. If the other team caught the ball, they came running around to your side of the house, trying to hit you with it and make you part of their team. My brothers and I spent countless hours playing this game with our friends.
And then there was Red Rover and Freeze Tag and Hide and Seek and catching lighting bugs and . . . “Those were the days, my friend.” Maybe today is a good time for us to build those kinds of days into our children’s lives. That way, they can learn that living “without” can be . . . fun.