I have a great son. Jack’s your typical teenager. He loves basketball, isn’t a big fan of school, likes to hang out with his friends. He also loves God.
A couple years ago, a few things converged in my son’s life. He and I read Take Your Best Shot by then-nine-year-oldAustin Gutwein, the story of a boy who decided he didn’t want to wait until he was all grown up to do something big for God.
Then, for homework, Jack began reading Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado and needled both of us, albeit in very different ways. One of the readings was Mr. Lucado’s take on what the leper must’ve felt who was healed by Jesus. Jack said that it reminded him of being at Feed My Starving Children earlier that day where he had gone for a packing session with some friends.
Feed My Starving Children (www.fmsc.org) is one of our family’s favorite organizations. It’s volunteer driven and we have done several food-packing sessions with our church, where we had the privilege of packing meals for children in third-world countries.
Jack said, “Did you know that for only ten dollars, you could feed two children for a month?” “I didn’t know that, bud…that’s amazing,” I said. And then I could tell his mind was going. We’d been kicking around the idea for months of ways he could use basketball to raise money for Africa, like Austin Gutwein did, and these books and that day’s packing session all came together for him.
So I prayed with him before putting him to bed and asked Jesus that if he thought this were a good idea, that he would help us be creative and make it happen. When I stopped praying, Jack said, “I think I know how we’re supposed to do this.” I grabbed a notebook and took down his thoughts. We would email our family and friends and ask them to sponsor Jack per basket. He would shoot as many baskets as he could, from the free-throw line, in one hour. It was a great idea. I pointed out that the Holy Spirit had just told him what we should do. I gave him a kiss and told him we’d work on it the next day.
He came and got me a few minutes later to show me something. He pointed out that when the light hit the wall across from his bed, the shadows looked like letters. He told me he was asking God to help him see what it said in case it were a message, and before he could tell me, I saw it, “B A L L.” “I think it says ‘B A L L’,” Jack said. Now, it wasn’t like the handwriting on the wall with Daniel or anything, but it was clear enough that I teared up. “Jesus must be trying to encourage you, hon,” I said. “I’ve never had him do that for me before,” Jack said with a smile. “Jesus is cool that way, baby,” I said as I walked back out, with my own big smile.
Jack came back out a couple minutes later. “I think it maybe also says ‘F A I L’,” he said, looking dejected. “Jack, which word do you think Jesus would be saying to you right now — BALL or FAIL?” “Ball,” he answered. “Then we’re going with that,” I said reassuring him.
So many rich lessons here. God can speak to us at any time and in any way. Never discount what God wants to do through a child. Always acknowledge a God-thing…I think he loves it when we give him credit. Encouraging our children’s very personal walk with God will build their faith and our own. And for heaven’s sakes…when the writing on the wall is positive, assume it’s from Jesus.
Jack went on to raise $5500 over two summers, which adds up to over 25,000 meals for hungry children all over the world, and he plans to do it again. And he’s doing another free-throw shooting session on July 11. If you’d like to donate towards this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Let’s help Jack help more kids.