In the ever-increasing drive to impact the families of our community, God continues to deliver experiences that wreck my heart and yet serve as catalysts for greater desperation for the tasks ahead.
I keep encountering people whose lives are shattered by what is happening within their families, and these experiences won’t let up. And I pray that neither will I in my commitment to help.
One of those experiences happened a few months ago.
Our family was together with a lot of children at a gathering. In the midst of this time, my family had the opportunity to spend the day with some young children who had all been removed from their homes. Their stories are awful. You wouldn’t believe some of them if I told you. It makes no sense to me what their families have done to them. Innocently, my children just saw them as new friends and were unaware of all the baggage they brought with them.
I wish I could have done that as well.
As we played together on a lovely Saturday afternoon, the lighthearted nature that began to emerge during our recreation time was balm to my soul. I began to see these children laugh and smile like they really meant it. Between my children, the children in crisis situations, and the other children present, the divide became smaller by the minute and it was beautiful to see. They were all just kids enjoying one another.
As I navigated through the maze of riding toys, footballs, and Nerf objects to dodge, I became ever-so-enlightened by listening to the conversation of these children.
Since there were many young boys present, Legos became a major point of discussion. These two boys began to discuss what their favorite Lego sets were. Since I have two boys fascinated with Legos right now, I decided to see if I heard any new sets I needed to put on the radar (for my sons, of course ;)).
“Did you know that I have the Batcave set?”
“Really?” said the boy who was not so privileged. “I have some, but I don’t have that one.”
“I’ve got lots of Legos at home.”
As I listened to this boy say these words, I cringed a bit even though he didn’t say them from a mean-spirited place.
The other boy responded, “Wow. Really? I wish I had a…”
As I eavesdropped upon this conversation, I actually mouthed the words that I thought this sad boy was about to say. He was about to say what any other unfortunate child would say in that moment, “Wow. Really? I wish I had a lot of Legos.”
But that’s not what he said. It wasn’t what he said at all.
“Wow. Really? I wish I had a home.”
And as he said these words, he began to run across the yard seeking some place of quick comfort from the reality of which he was just reminded.
As I began to run after him, I could barely hear the other child, shocked and jostled, whisper after him, “Sorry. I wish you had a home too.”
I Wish They Had a Home
I share this story for two reasons:
1. There are children who need a home.
You know this. I know this. The situation is getting more dire by the day. Millions of children do not have a home. There are children in your community and across the world that need a home.
You cannot do something about all of them. You may not be able to bring one of them into your home right now. But you can do something.
You can support someone’s adoption. You can volunteer at a children’s home. You can reach out to that child in the neighborhood who is neglected. You can foster. You can provide respite care. You can adopt. You can give a child a home. You can visit an orphan in distress and keep yourself unstained by the disgusting nature of this world (James. 1:27).
2. Make sure you are building your home on something sturdier than Legos.
We must remember that “unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1).
It is easy as a parent to focus upon my provision for my children and neglect my presence with my children.
My children may be giddy with the stuff I buy them, but they will be forever changed by the way I live before them. What they need are parents who are committed to loving the LORD and teaching them to do the same (Deut. 6:4-9). They need the hearts of their parents drawn to them (Mal. 4:6). They need to know that they are the blessing (Ps. 127:3) and not the stuff in our homes that we refer to as blessings.
I am thankful that, through deep pain, God taught me this lesson. I was thankful for a moment to eavesdrop on a conversation that reminded me what my children and other children really need.
Legos can’t build a home. It takes a family.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.