A few weeks ago, as I got out of my car, I was greeted by two of our kids waiting expectantly on the pavement of the parking lot next to #20. Now, I thought it was sweet that they were waiting for me to get to the PEACE Program, and I loved the hugs that they showered upon me. But, I quickly realized that the end goal of their affection, the prize they had set their hearts on, was not me.
Before I could close the door of my car, they both jumped into my front seat and,
“HONK, HONK, HOOOONNNNKKK, HOOOOOOOOONNNNNNKKKKK!”
Yup. I fell for it. I was a victim of the old “hug-a-coordinator-so-we-can-honk-his-car-horn” trick. Classic.
But as those two kids relentlessly honked, something surprised me, and it wasn’t the car horn. When in situations like this before, generally, I would jump into panic mode and suit-up my “no-more-mister-nice-guy” face (which I’m not very good at, in all honesty). But as the honking continued and as those two kids giggled and watched me to see if I would blow up on them, all I could do was smile and…start laughing with them.
Realizing that many of the kids in #20 were beginning to wonder what the commotion was, I casually but firmly told the two kids in my car that they needed to hop out so we could go inside. And adding to my surprise, they jumped right out without my asking twice, without my having to pull them out, without my needing to confront and crush the fun that could have easily turned into rebellion.
Neither of those two kids actually ended up coming inside with me, choosing to go home instead. But as I took the trash to the dumpster at the end of the PEACE Program, I ran into one of those two kids, a six year-old boy, waiting outside our back door. Now it was no surprise to me that the first words out of his mouth were, “Can I honk your horn again?” I smiled at him and told him “no,” wondering if he would accept my simple answer without explanation. In that moment, as we stared each other down, I really wasn’t sure what he was going to say. I could see the thoughts playing out across his forehead. To protest or not to protest. To throw a fit or not to throw a fit. Finally, his eyes softened, and he simply said, “Okay. Thanks for letting me honk your horn.” He then proceeded to hop onto the bicycle lying next to him and rode off. I smiled and thought to myself…
At the PEACE Program, we encounter a lot of different situations every day (or more like every moment.) We can go from helping kids with homework to consoling hurt feelings, and from handing out prizes for meeting reading goals to walking a kid home who was not respecting other kids. We have days that we consider great days and other days that we consider…well… not so great. Sometimes, it can get hard to see past the struggles and the toil, to see beyond the momentary, light afflictions.
A week before the story told above, our team of coordinators was reminded by some friends of ours that we are to walk in the victory of Jesus Christ in every circumstance that we encounter. We were reminded that Jesus Christ is our victory in every situation. We (and you) don’t have to let the striving and toiling overtake every moment. We don’t have to let surprises and unexpected outbursts of honking take away our joy. Instead, we choose to walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, because at the PEACE Program, we walk in Jesus Christ. We will walk in….VICTORY!!!
“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (The Message)