Way to go Daniel…

17 05 2010

Jeni, the boys, and I went to lunch with my brother Daniel and our friend Brent to one of the Chili’s restaurants around Atlanta yesterday. We had a great time watching Andrew throw anything within arms reach at anyone within throws reach. Brent and Caedmon played tic-tac-toe, Jackson colored on his menu, Toby ate continuously and we had a cheerful time. But, in a matter of moments everything changed. (insert dramatic, cliffhanger music here)

Caedmon had been his smiley self, prompting Brent to ask, “Is this the happiest kid in the world?” (or something like that). Anyway, towards the end of dinner Caedmon told us he had to go the bathroom and asked Daniel to watch his food for him. His concern is rooted in Andrew’s reaching and throwing habit. Daniel started playing with Caedmon and acting like he was going to eat Caedmon’s food. Laughter and squealing ensued as I wheeled Caedmon to the bathroom.

Continuing the game, Caedmon had me call Daniel from the bathroom and remind him not to eat his food. That sweet little, never hurt anyone, delight of a child was having such innocent fun with his trustworthy, loving uncle. As we walked through the restaurant back to our table Caedmon could be heard from a distance as he lost the battle to contain his enthusiasm. But, (insert another dose of dramatic music) when we arrived at the table Caedmon’s plate was gone! Daniel told Caedmon that he had eaten the rest of his food!

Caedmon’s face was robbed of its carefree joy and invaded by a foreign presence of heartache. He dropped his head down, laying his forehead across his right forearm, staring at the floor below. Daniel began asking, “Is he sad? Is he really sad?” All the while tears had begun racing each other to the floor to escape the sadness portrayed by Caedmon’s heartbroken countenance. He finally lifted his head to reveal his anguish and the groveling began.

Daniel quickly returned the plate of food that he had hidden and began pleading with the lamenting toddler, “I’m sorry Caedmon.” Thankfully Jeni had come prepared with some leftover chocolate cake and we were able to divert Caedmon’s attention to the imminent sweet relief. Crisis averted, lesson learned.

Caedmon’s distress came from a combination of  factors.

1) He really wanted his dinner.
2) The person he trusted appeared to have betrayed him.
3) He really, really wanted his dinner.

The  incident had me thinking about that second factor. Reliability, trustworthiness, shooting straight.

In our personal relationships it is always tough to tell whether or not someone is “shooting straight” with us. Do they have an ulterior motive? Are they simply dishonest? Or, do the know and tell the truth? The classic stereotype of this is found in the politician. But, that’s for another blog and another blogger.

I want to point out something about the God that loves me and you.

(I know that not everyone reading this is a theist, much less a Christian but can I encourage you to consider these words. You aren’t sitting in a church, no one is watching you or judging you. You have the freedom to reflect on these ideas and ask God to help you understand them… what do you have to lose?)

1) He is trustworthy. We can take God at his word.
2) He has “shot straight” with us. Now, we may not like what God has communicated to us through the Bible but we can agree that he didn’t mince words. Many people struggle with the idea that they are a sinner, but that’s what the Bible says. We wrestle with the idea that our goodness might not be enough to make God accept us, but that’s what the Bible says. So, what are we to do with this?

In my little parable about Caedmon and Daniel, the villain was Daniel because he made a false promise and when it proved false Caedmon was heartbroken. The promise Daniel made represents the lie that we are being fed in our culture. The lie that we are good enough for Heaven or that God is mean-spirited and evil because some go to Hell. Unfortunately, when our time comes if we have believed the lie we will find ourselves heartbroken beyond words as we stand before the Holy One.

God has stated His case plainly. No one is good enough for Heaven. Secondly, He is love. He doesn’t just love or have the capability to love… He is love. To not love is impossible for Him. Our not being good enough and His love collided just outside of Jerusalem about 2000 years ago when Jesus was crucified.

Our sin was placed onto Jesus, God incarnate, so that the payment for sin could be paid for everyone. From the beginning God knew of our condition and promised a rescue. Jesus is that rescue. We now have the benefit of history and hindsight to look back and embrace our rescuer. But many of us have believed the lie so we look back at the rescuer and find Him silly or dishonest. We have exchanged the truth for a lie.

How different would our lunch experience have been if it had gone like this…

“Caedmon, not only will I watch over your food but, if you believe me and trust me with this I will have chocolate cake waiting on you when you return. Do you believe me?” Caedmon would have replied, “Yeah!” and he would have instantly begun pointing towards the bathroom so that I would get him moving. His faith in Daniel being pure and knowing that he had to go in order for the cake to appear. While Caedmon was gone, Daniel cut a bronto-slab of cake and smothered Caedmon’s plate with it. It goes without saying that upon his return, Caedmon would have been thrilled, Daniel would have been thrilled, and cake would have been devoured.

You see, God has made that offer to you and to me. “If you will trust me with your life and believe me about Jesus then I will have eternal life for you when you get to me. Do you believe me?” Oh, that we would respond like Caedmon. But too many of us get distracted by the naysayers and the business of life and never accept God’s offer. Sad.

When the day comes and you find yourself being pushed up to God’s table will you have heartbroken tears or will you have cake?