Monday, January 25, 2010

The marble jar lesson

Lucy and Stinky Pete each have a marble jar. They earn marbles for good, thoughtful and respecting behavior. When the jar is full they get a substantial prize. Lucy especially knows how this works.

Mike and I were blessed over Christmas with some unexpected funds and at that time the marble jar was almost full. We decided we better be on the ball and go ahead and get the prize. She wanted a DS badly for Christmas and did not get one.

The week after Christmas she was about 10-12 marbles shy of having a full jar and receiving a prize. By this time Mike and I had bought her not a DS but, something better, a PSP. This was SURE to be a prize she would LOVE!!!

Her daddy was busting at the seams to give her the prize. He begged and prodded and asked and urged her to earn some marbles. Remember, all she has to do to earn them is some good, thoughtful behavior, for example, doing some extra chores unasked. (Which are never-ending around here.) He was continually checking in on her asking "Lucy, did you earn a marble yet?" And her response was often "Na."

After a couple of days of this Mike couldn't take it any more. He came to her while she was watching TV and said; "I don't think you believe you're gonna get a good prize. So, Let me assure you, you are gonna love this prize more than anything you own right now. In fact you will love it more than watching TV!" Her response was "Yeah?" followed by more TV watching. Mike and I watched in astonishment as she didn't even move to attempt to do anything to earn a marble. Then Mike turned to me and said something that resonated in my soul. He said; "She doesn't believe me! She doesn't think I have something good for her!"

She immediately piped in and said "Yes I do!" and He quickly replied; "No you don't!" As this battle went on for a few seconds, she was still on the couch partially engaged in the TV show. He said to me again, "She doesn't think it's a very good prize...she just really doesn't believe me." At long last she tore her eyes from the TV and proceeded to find something to do to earn a marble. When she did we cheered and yelled and carried on like crazy people hoping the encouragement would egg her to earn some more quickly.

Our efforts were in vain.

Over the next couple of days with much prodding and prompting (The COMPLETE opposite of the purpose of the marble jar!!) she finally filled it up and received her prize. She was elated! It truly was a prize worth working for and she was in hog heaven! She said it was the best marble jar prize ever and was so happy.

One evening in the midst of this I said to Mike, "I have been really convicted about what you said."

"Yea? What did I say?"

"To Lucy, about not believing you had something good for her that was worth working hard for."

"How so?"

And I told him of the spiritual parallel I saw: How often do I as a "believer" act this way? I know our Father has good things for me. I know that He longs for me to do good works. I know that there is a reward if I don't give up. But I don't act on it. I am easily distracted by something that is not necessarily bad, but rather entertaining and not exactly productive. Meanwhile there are people around me that need my help and chores that have to be done. How often do I also not really believe that I have a treasure worth far more than anything I currently can see?

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Matthew 13:44
You believe that God is one You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? James 2:19-20

Jesus, I believe; help me in my unbelief. You are the prize. You are the reward. You are the treasure. Help me to live like it.

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