A week after we shipped the tractor and all the donations to Africa, we were rearranging our two youngest boys’ bedroom. Double bunk beds crowd this space. Last year, our two older boys moved upstairs to Luke’s old room and now G2 and Cruz share the downstairs bunk bed bedroom. Someone had given us a new mattress, and we were exchanging Cruz’s old mattress. As Scott pulled the old mattress out of the lower bunk bed where Cruz slept when he was smaller, I inwardly groaned.
A big fat mess was under the bed.
Scott propped the old mattress in the hallway and brought in the new mattress as I cleaned the floor. Scott carried the new mattress into the room. “Look at that! There’s the little green monkey,” he said, and I couldn’t believe it.
We both knew Cruz’s little green monkey was on its way to Africa. I looked in the corner where Scott pointed and under an old sippy cup and a children’s book was the little green monkey.
I was stunned. “How can this be?” I asked Scott.
“I don’t know, but there it is.” Scott leaned the new mattress against the wall as I climbed into the mess under the upper bunk bed and picked up the little green monkey with my memory spinning.
I had given the little green monkey to Cruz on his first birthday. That special birthday, he’d gotten all kinds of toys, but he liked the little green monkey best. It became his favorite toy. For a long time, he packed it around and slept with it every night.
Then one morning the little green monkey vanished. Cruz was crushed. I searched everywhere, but it was just gone. That afternoon with one of Cruz’s older sisters watching him, I ran into town and bought another little green monkey. The last one in the store. I was so happy they still had it and thanked God for this. And then I forgot all about two little green monkeys and remembered only one.
All this returned to me as I knelt in the mess under the bunk bed. God, you’re so good, I whispered, holding the monkey pressed against my heart the way I had before shipping the other one to Africa. Tears rushed to my eyes. It was the original little green monkey. The one we’d forgotten about. I’d convinced Cruz the new little green monkey was as good as his old monkey. At first, Cruz didn’t buy it. The new monkey sat on his bed for several days untouched. It just wasn’t ratty and smelly and loved all sweaty and hard like his old monkey. But finally, three-year-old Cruz warmed up to the new monkey and it became his favorite toy again, and three years later when Cruz stuck that little green monkey in one of the boxes for Africa, I didn’t know he’d done it.
Until I was taping closed all the boxes the morning the shipping container arrived at our farm. If you read my other blogs, you know how much I didn’t want to part with Cruz’s little green monkey. I’d kept all our other kids’ favorite first toys. How could I let go of Cruz’s?
But, I trust you, Lord, I prayed that day as I taped up the box that held the little green monkey. It hurts to part with my youngest son’s beloved baby toy, but I’ll do it. Not because I’m a compassionate person, though I think I am. Not because I now love the little children of Africa, though I do since joining The Lulu Tree. But because I love you, Lord, and feel you nudging me to part with this treasure.
Before I was saved, I never would have tucked that little green monkey back into the box and sent it to Africa. I didn’t part with my treasures back then. I confess to you I’m a material girl slowly learning to let go of lesser things so I can find the pearl of great price.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” Matthew 13:45-46.
Can I be honest with you? I really don’t like this parable Jesus told. I don’t want to sell all I have for a pearl of great price. But I know I need to lay down all my earthly loves for this greater love. And sometimes when the tides of love turn your way, the Greater Love gives you back your treasure.
I held onto Cruz’s original little green monkey and the tears ran down my face. “Are you okay?” Scott asked. “What’s up with the monkey. I thought you sent it to Africa.”
“I did send it to Africa. But this is Cruz’s original little green monkey. Remember when he lost his first one?”
“No. I don’t remember,” Scott said with his hand holding the mattress against the wall, staring at me.
“Well, Cruz lost this one, and I ran out and bought another one, and convinced him it was as good as his monkey. But it wasn’t the real monkey. Here is the real monkey. God gave it back to us.” More tears rushed to my eyes.
Scott gave me that look. It’s a kind of “you’re crazy, yet endearing” look. Maybe we could call it, “you’re my weird little monkey but I love you” look.
Are you ready for the new mattress?” Scott finally asked. My husband had waterlines to fix on our farm, and I was kneeling there holding the little green monkey with the love of God washing over me.
“Give me one minute to clean this mess,” I said, putting the little green monkey in my pocket and quickly picking up the mess under Cruz’z bed. Then I let Scott slide the new mattress into place, and he headed outside to work.
That afternoon, when Cruz got home from school, I decided not to show him his monkey. I tucked the monkey away for when Cruz got older. It would be easier, and perhaps more meaningful to share it with him later. Say, during a time when God was taking something he loved away for a greater purpose.
This week our 12-year-old son, Joey, is sitting out of what he loves most in the world right now. Football. Joey got an infection. Three times a day, I’m giving Joey horse-sized pills. Hopefully, these antibiotics will heal him quickly, but until that happens, he’s done with the football he loves.
Joey hasn’t been easy to live with this week. This morning, I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed for him before school. I said, “This is your chance to draw close to God. God doesn’t want you to love football more than you love Him. Think about God instead of football this week.”
Our kids sometimes call me the “church lady” when I do this. Not as much as they used to since they’ve heard me cuss at our dogs. I love our three labs, but they can make me so mad, digging up our yard and chewing on the picnic tables. I blame this new habit of cussing the dogs on my hormones going haywire as I’m about to turn 50. I know. Some of you are laughing. And some of you are probably vowing to never read this sinner’s blog again.
That’s okay. I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t write for everyone. All I can do is be honest before God and honest with myself and try to be honest with all of you. The rest will fall where it falls. Like bird poop from the sky. Bird poop can either fertilize the earth or make a mess on your head.
What’s falling right now is the certainty that I must give up my treasures and trust God to give me back what He wants me to have. Holding the original little green monkey in my hands after I thought we’d lost it forever filled me with fresh faith. And made me more sure that I can trust Jesus with my treasures.
And trust Jesus with my kids.
Not a day goes by that one of our kids doesn’t have a problem. Most days, two or three of the kids have problems. I lose sleep over these problems. Now I have a precious grandbaby to lose sleep over, and another grandbaby on the way. If I don’t give my kids and grandkids to God, I’m going to lose my marbles. I’ve got to trust my treasures to the One who loves me. And loves my kids.
Do you believe you can trust God with your treasures?
Maybe, like me, your children are your treasures. Or your spouse, your work, your books, your football, all your little green monkeys that you hold onto so tightly. What does it mean to give up these treasures for the pearl of great price?
Do you know Jesus is the pearl of great price?
Can you finally let go of lesser things to grab hold of Him with both hands?
I hope you can.