By Christa Skipper
Recently, I was sitting with a mom at a sporting event for our children. We chatted about activities, children, and how things have gotten more and more involved compared to when we were kids. We talked about how sports and activities require more money, more equipment and materials, more time, and more commitment and sacrifice from parents. As we were talking, I stopped and said, “It’s all boxes and balls!”
My friend probably thought I was crazy for a second, but I had made a connection with a book I used to read to my children. This book was given to me when I was pregnant with our first son. I can still remember reading it to him and him jumping around in my belly as I read and said, “boxes and balls” over and over. Maybe he thought I was beatboxing or something!
The book I am referring to is entitled, “You Are Mine” by Max Lucado. It’s a children’s picture book with a sweet story for children, but a strong message for people of any age.
Boxes and balls, boxes and balls, boxes and balls
In the book, there is a little village of people called the Wemmicks who have been created by the Maker. The Maker stays close but leaves the Wemmicks alone to make their own choices. Someone in the village gets a little box and then gets a ball. Other Wemmicks admired his box and his ball and want to get their own. Soon everyone in the village gets boxes and balls, constantly trying to get more and bigger boxes and balls than their peers.
The main character in the story was a little guy named Punchinello. He held out on the race to get boxes and balls until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He ended up sacrificing things he needed just to get the boxes and balls like everyone else. When he finally comes to his senses, he gives up on the competition and goes to find the Maker. At the foot of his creator he hears the message, “It’s not what you have, it’s Whose you are.”
It’s whose you are
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
As you know, this is not the message of our culture. Our culture pressures us to gather more boxes and balls and to sacrifice whatever we have in order to get more. When you see this played out in the book, it breaks your heart for the people of the village, and their actions seem silly. But it is no different than what we often see going on around us. I’ll give you a simple example.
A few years ago, a cup was invented that was insulated and would keep your drink cold for hours. Then I noticed other things coming out for the cup. There were different types of lids, then special straws, then straws made of different materials, then straws made of different materials that were bent, then straw cleaners, then handles you could buy to go on the cups, then bigger versions of the cups, then smaller versions of the cups, then we started monogramming the cups, then we started dipping the cups in special paint, and on and on. I think you get it!
What are our boxes and balls?
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.” 1 Tim. 6:6-12, ESV
Our Maker knew how hard this was going to be. He knew that every day we would be tempted to substitute the worth He gives us with things, position, accomplishments, and more. God knew that our eyes would constantly be looking around us instead of focusing on Him. He was aware that it would not be easy, but it would be possible if we let Christ do it in us and give us the strength we need.
This is an encouragement to check ourselves as adults. I don’t know that we ever outgrow those tendencies. Is there an area where we are seeking to get boxes and balls? Many times, we need to stop, go to the Maker, and say, “I’m tired! I can’t keep going like this. I understand that I am special because I am yours.”
It is wise to check our hearts and see who we are trying to please.
As a minister’s wife and mom of four active kids, Christa Skipper has plenty of opportunities to connect with people around her. She knows that God can use our everyday connections to make a difference in the lives of others. She has taught for the past five years, and she runs a blog called “Connected.” Christa and her family attend Concord Baptist Church in Clermont.