“Not today, Sweets,” I replied. If I remember correctly, I was only half-listening to her. Multi-tasking was my way of life. “I don’t have the money to go out to eat.”
“No,” she smiled. “I have money. I want to take you out!”
I stopped whatever important task I was doing and looked down at her.
“Oh no, Sweetheart, you don’t have to spend your birthday money on me!”
“But, I want to.” She answered.
I wish you could have seen her smile. It started when I agreed and stayed with her as she fell asleep that night. We had a great lunch together…just the two of us. Watching her carefully count out her money and pay for my meal was humbling. Her smile as she did so filled my heart. My girl learned the truth of Jesus’ own words…
It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35
I love to love my kids in extravagant ways. I love to surprise them. I love to lavish on them. I’m learning that they not only love it when we do, they also love to return extravagant love.
In a world where we all carry a sense of entitlement, loving extravagantly comes at a personal cost. When I spend my resources loving my kids, I can’t spend those same resources on myself. When Ellen took me to lunch a few years ago, she no longer had her birthday money to spend on herself.
The best part? She spent it on what she really wanted. Time with me.
Over the years, I’ve prayed that my kids would hear the voice of God in ways that their young hearts could understand. He faithfully answered my prayers and each of my children have their own stories of hearing God speak to them and knowing what it was they needed to do. You would have to ask them what God has spoken to them over the years. I’ve only seen the times He’s asked them to love extravagantly.
I wish I had known the importance of letting them follow His lead to love extravagantly years ago. I would have done things differently.
I would have let them put their own change in the red kettle at Christmas time instead of reaching into my purse.
I would have found ways to let them earn money so they could spend their own money on each other’s birthdays.
I would have been quick to agree to a date paid by my own girl.
These years later, that same girl came to me with a heavy heart and asked me to take her to a few stores. I told her to pray and ask for specific direction. Today we ventured out in the cold on a mission. In doing so, I got a front-row seat to an act of extravagant love.
And, the greatest importance of it, she knew she was following the voice of her Savior.