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Articles / Character / Inspiration / Personal Growth

The Ministry of a Math Problem

by Kellie Clark

Three nights ago, after the dinner dishes had been done, the kids and I sat down for a mid-week evening binge on Netflix. Just as we turned on the television, my daughter, Savanna, jumped off the couch announcing that she had forgotten to do her math homework.  We all shifted gears – little brother, Justin, and I found an quiet art project to do while Savanna sat at the kitchen table reading aloud her math problems.

Savanna’s 8th grade class has been working through a unit on real-life finance with the goal of teaching them about financial decisions they will eventually face as consumers – making purchases, taking out loans, filling savings accounts. 

She read and we listened. 

Ty was saving for a patio set to enhance his apartment.  He needed $650.00 in order to purchase the set he desired.  He was $225.00 away from reaching his savings goal, when he learned that the newest video game was released! 

That same day, the patio set went on sale at a 35% discount.  Ty clearly did not do his math homework either – he buckled in the face of temptation.  He blew $100.00 on a video game and missed the sale. 

Honestly, I don’t remember the actual math that Savanna was supposed to calculate in response to the problem.  In fact, I did not actually recall that homework problem at all – until two days later.

 Little brother, Justin, came to me with a spiritual dilemma.  His nine year old faith was struggling with the seeming opposition between God’s will in one’s life and the concept of free will, which all too often yields negative outcomes. 

How could God allow life to go so wildly astray, if He intends good for us? 

As we explored this concept together, I offered that every day we each face a multitude of choices – tens of thousands of moments in which we can choose to keep our feet on God’s path of good intention or we can give in to the temptation to go our own way.  Sometimes, our own way might work out.  Then again, it might not.  However, God’s path will always yield results that are in our best interest – in the end.

I prayed that my explanation was both accurate and adequate to convey this heady concept to my sweet little son.   I saw the light of revelation in Justin’s eyes – I was awash with relief, then he exclaimed, “I get it! You mean it’s like Ty!”  

“Who’s Ty?” I asked feeling completely confused and trying to not be discouraged by such a left-field response.  Justin proceeded to educate me, “You know Mom, Ty from the other night. 

God intends for us have the patio set in life.  We just need to follow Him and beware of video games.”

Truly, it should have come as no surprise that Justin – who has always had a high level of emotional intelligence for one so young – would find God in a math problem!  Children don’t have an adult’s hazy filter that can make His presence cloudy in our busy, bling-filled world.  Children can see God everywhere with greater clarity.

Since that moment of mutual revelation, I have deeply pondered Ty and his patio set.  How many ways – big and small – do I choose the video game over the patio set? 

How many moments each and every day do my feet slip off of His path?  Am I even aware?  Are any of us?

 Today, may you trod with intention, confidence, and commitment toward your patio set – may you avoid the video games that call you like sirens toward the rocks. 

May your feet stay on the path and may you freely make choices that yield good for your life. 

With Gratitude,

Kellie Clark

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1 Comment

  1. YES! What a great article….this is a clear example of choosing God’s Plan, usually the delayed gratification…over choosing the temptations of life which are all too common in the form of instant gratification….stick to God’s plan and we shall never fear anything! 🙂 Love it Kellie! – Matt Barry


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