A few weeks ago my favorite deli was testing key lime lemonade. The first time I saw the sign, I had already ordered an iced tea. The next time, I noticed the sign, but wasn’t sure I wanted the calories, so decided to wait until my next visit to splurge. You guessed it. The next time I went in it was gone. I was really disappointed. I am a key lime fan and loved the idea. It was only a test product though and I may never again get the chance to taste that key lime lemonade.
Parenting is a lot like that. There are some opportunities you are given with your child that are one shot deals. You miss your window and the opportunity is gone. The problem is that we usually don’t realize it at the time and pass on the chance figuring it will come again at a more convenient time.
Sometimes those opportunities are an invitation from God to take you on exciting journey serving Him. When our daughter was not quite three years old, we took a family trip to Cancun. Mexico. We had friends who were missionaries on a nearby island. My husband didn’t feel well, but encouraged me to take our daughter to go visit and encourage them since we were so close.
I will admit. The idea of taking my preschool child on a bus, then a ferry in a country where I barely spoke the language (Mexico was not as “American” as it is today) and couldn’t drink tap water or uncooked food, made me more than a little nervous. I rationalized the missionary family was able to come home regularly and wouldn’t miss us. What I didn’t realize was the visit was about us and not them. My husband insisted and our daughter and I had what turned out to be a great day. What came out of that day though gave our family years of godly adventures and lessons for our daughter and our family.
At other times the opportunities are from our children. There are brief moments in time when our kids come to us wanting to talk about the big issues of life. What may sound like a casual question about how you knew your spouse was “the one” may actually be your child asking for help in identifying a godly mate. Stress over a friendship may be actually wanting you to share how to act and react to others in godly ways. Especially as our children grow older and busier, this opportunities often grow fewer in number. Some kids give up after a few tries when parents brush them off and never ask them the big questions again.
If you think about it, your child’s childhood is a once in a lifetime opportunity. You don’t get to push the “re-do” button when their adult versions appear and we are not happy with their ungodly choices. Don’t do like I did with the key lime lemonade. Take advantage of every opportunity God gives you with your kids. You never know when or if you will be given that particular chance again. (Meanwhile McAlister’s Deli – Please bring back the key lime lemonade! I promise I won’t take it for granted next time.)