Our children took lunches made at home for most of their school careers. It was a financial decision for us. In high school they had the flexibility to go out to lunch if they met the school’s grade requirements and saved enough money or they could buy in the cafeteria, again on their dime.
But for one of ours the decision point was not based on allowance or grades but the desire to fit in with what it seemed the more popular kids got to do, which was buy their lunch every day. So our child decided to simply drop the lunch made that morning at home in the trash and walk through the line with all the other “cool” kids. Many of the parents paid by the semester so the adult worker in the cafeteria simply recorded our child’s name on the list. It must have seemed too easy and too good to be true because for the next few months said child repeated the process. I’m sure it never occurred to this not-so-smart-yet mind that mom and dad would get a bill one day for lunches purchased that we had not agreed to purchase!
One of our oft repeated prayers went like this: “O Lord, help us catch our children when they do wrong so they will know that You see everything and that cheating or breaking the rules is not worth it. Amen.”
God answered our prayer when one day a younger sibling saw the older sibling throw away the lunch and walk out of the cafeteria carrying a tray. I’m sure this one felt a jealous pang of manifest unfairness! “Why can’t I buy my lunch?” was surely the thought. And so that night the question was posed. What followed was a lengthy inquisition to get to the truth.
Our offending child learned quickly that it didn’t pay because for what seemed a very long time this one was paying us for all those charged lunches that had added up to an unimaginably large sum for a sixth grader.
What initially felt like a crisis for us; what had we missed or done wrong we wondered at first, quickly became an opportunity to teach the presence of God that goes everywhere we go and sees all that we do. We also were encouraged that God heard our prayers and helped us “catch” this one in their sin. And in the years to come God answered that prayer multiple times for all of our children.
Training isn’t always easy or pleasant but it is worth it in the end. So moms and dads be strong and courageous and stick to your values and what you know is true. It’s not a popularity contest, this raising of children to adulthood. Surprises will come like this one did for us, but God loves to help parents whose goal is to raise children who desire to love and please Him.
May you be bold and courageous as parents this coming school year.