It's day four, and we are coming to the close of our family spring vacation. Actually, it was a big-four family spring vacation and, I will admit, one of the best times we've ever spent in the Golden State. My mother and sister both live there, so we visit often – we always have a blast! My sister and I are very close and are always anxious to see each another . Then there are my daughters: they love the beach, and will be in the waves on any day, sunshine or rain. So, deciding on a trip to California is never a long discussion with our family. However, while this four-family vacation concept seemed exciting, it came with risks that aren't necessarily inherent in a close-family member excursion. True personality exposures may not be as easily excused among non-family members who haven't had the benefit of getting acquainted with our slight imperfections. Five adults, ten active young people aged eleven to twenty-one ... honestly, this adventure could go either way. Believe me as I restate, this trip was the best time we've ever spent in California. We had no real plan, no agenda except transportation and lodging. Sunday morning we made a large circle in the street, prayed together, and off we went!
If I may digress for a moment, what makes a trip like this successful? Yes, there are things we did behind the scenes to ensure the best potential for a great time together. One thing I remember sharing with my friends was, "Let's be sure we understand our responsibility to guard and preserve the bond of love and relationship God has established between our families." We were about to really meet each other on a different level, which demanded a greater level of responsibility to one another. This resolve was our relaxed but active commitment to the preservation of our friendships. I am learning that unity requires more than relationship ... it demands a mission statement; an agreement in purpose. With the things I've learned since this journey, I'd say our resolve to preserve our relationships was in fact our mission. The fantastic time we shared together was not only the result of our relationships, but when we coupled that with our mission it gave birth to unity. Unity is what essentially generated the outcome of a great week together. As a secondary safeguard, I privately encouraged our daughters to display everything we've taught them regarding relationships: giving honor, grace, and preference to others. Without a doubt, I am certain that these conversations, combined with prayer, God's grace, and favor, created four days we all will treasure for years to come.
On the second day of our trip, as I sat on the beach enjoying the great weather (keeping dry, I might add – I love the sandy side of the beach; the water side, not so much), I saw an interaction involving two others, which has moved me to write this blog, which I've entitled, "Mine". You may recall a great family movie, "Finding Nemo". Near the climax of this heart-warming, animated tale of a father's relentless search for his lost son, Nemo, we, the viewers, find ourselves in the presence of several talented, supporting actors. Their parts in the show were small indeed – they were given only a single word in which to express their character. However, their presence in the movie was well played and has made a lasting impression on viewers everywhere. If you saw the movie, you may know I am referring to the role of the seagulls. On the boardwalk, Nemo and his comical sidekick Dory (a Blue Tang fish suffering from short-term memory loss), find themselves a couple of fish-out-of-water, and a possible evening snack for the small brigade of hungry seagulls. To the advantage of Nemo and Dory, the seagulls get involved in a heated debate over who will enjoy this Nemo-Dory combo plate; both tasty and delightful ... if you're a seagull. Rather than sharing the small but rewarding treat, they engage in a heated battle, arguing back and forth declaring the single word, "mine"; each one to the other, chanting over and over ... "MINE!"
As I mentioned, I found myself comfortably seated on the beach, enjoying the great weather and the beautiful sight of my family and close friends making lifelong memories, when a fearless, feathered fellow approached me. He noticed I was eating something tasty and naturally felt he deserved a sample for himself. Surely it would bring no harm to share just one piece of fruit with a new friend, I thought ... I tossed over a half-eaten grape. In no time at all I found myself in the middle of a real-life reenactment of "Finding Nemo", when a second seagull suddenly flew in to retrieve the fruity treat for himself. Without much delay, seagull #1 went into an outrage, loudly and repeatedly stating the words, "MINE! MINE!", in his seagull language. In my feeble attempt to end the squabble, I tossed a second half-eaten grape into the mix, thinking this would surely produce a peace treaty in the "War the of Birds"; I was wrong. My feathery friend, certain that all foods tossed over by me were exclusively for his consumption only, was relentless. Tossing the second piece of fruit into play only produced more rage between the birds as back and forth they argued, "MINE! MINE!" with beaks blaring, wings raised, squawking into the air. They both demanded the prize they were equally free to enjoy, would they have only traded the word "MINE" for "OURS". As you may have guessed, a third supporting actor – seagull #3 – swooped in and gathered both of the unattended pieces of fruit for himself, and happily flew away. The opponents were unaware of the robbery, still fighting over what no longer remained.
End of story. Or is it? Surely there are lessons to be learned from my wild-animal encounter:
1) Never fight over sandy, half-eaten grapes ... it's not worth it!
2) Consider this: what is really, fully, and completely mine? Don't I gain more by sharing what I have with another? Refusing to share what I have received, especially from, or with the aid of, another, is selfish and immature and clearly not the character God desires for us as His children. Demanding ownership for myself may be my declaration of God's inability to provide for us both. Hmm ... just a thought. On the other hand, here are some things to consider. What is clearly mine is the ability to make great choices regardless of the situations with which I am faced! What is clearly mine is the opportunity to share when I could horde. What is clearly mine is the understanding and confidence that God is ultimately responsible to take care of me. As is clearly stated in Matthew 6:25-27:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
Therefore, I should not worry or fight for that which God is responsible to provide. This confidence frees me from the urgency to get all I can, and can all I get, for myself.
What is really mine is the knowledge that when I share and give what I could keep, that's the time I most resemble my Father God who is Himself the Master Giver.
What is truly mine is the grace He provides to successfully represent Him in the earth each day.
What is clearly mine is the new mercy which He gives each morning in the event I fail in any area noted above.
I am convinced that with such eternal things that are truly mine, I am released from the need to fight over things on earth which are temporal, fading, and could be taken away at any moment. In the big picture, they are worth no more than a half-eaten, sand-encrusted grape.
So then, with our thoughts renewed to live from this posture, let us all, each one, throw our heads back, raise our hands high, lift our voice and squawk, I mean shout, in resounding chorus: "MINE!"
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