Rarely does a meal with my children occur that I don’t hear this timeless, immortal question. I have come to expect it…and even find myself disappointed if the mealtime conflict never transpires.
The routine is pretty much the same each time. They’ll mow through any meat and starch on their plate leaving a lonely fruit or vegetable staring back at them.
“Jacob, eat your corn! Noah, eat your green beans! Elijah, eat your broccoli!”
Their bewildered, perplexed and tortured look is accompanied by the same question…
Often times, my answer is “All of it!” This immediately elicits a Brandoesque response (a la “Streetcar Named Desire”). Only instead of “STELLA”…the cry is “DADDY?!?!?!” You would think I had just asked them to give away their X-Box!
I guess I’ve conditioned them to give this response. It dates back to the times when they were learning to eat ‘big boy’ food, and we were practically begging them to eat healthy. In an effort to get them to eat SOMETHING, I allowed them to negotiate.
And years later the negotiation continues. Sometimes Dad is strong – other times, Dad covets peace and quiet…so he gives in.
Both of you reading this may have a range of thoughts on this subject…but before you make fun of me, ridicule me, or instruct me in the fine art of dinner table parenting, allow me to make a correlation.
In the 19th chapter of Matthew there is a wealthy man that comes to Jesus. He comes to Jesus for the very reason that many of us have come to Jesus. He wants something (that's another post for another time). Specifically…
He wants to go to Heaven!
He’s often identified as the “Rich Young Man” or the “Rich Young Ruler”…and many a sermon has been preached, using this ‘poor’ guy as an example, on the dangers of wealth. But there is a lot more to this story. And before Jesus ever got to the point where he asks this man to give it all away, I realize how much he and I have in common.
When he came to Jesus he had what sounded like a simple question. “What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?” But his question is deeper than that. In other words, Jesus, tell me how to make the cut. Tell me how to pass the class. I don’t want an “A,” I don’t want a “B”…heck, I don’t even really NEED a “C”! I just need to pass.
Jesus, patiently, tells him to keep the commandments…to which the rich man asks, “Which ones?” I mean, surely Jesus didn’t mean ALL of them, did He? Would 70% of them be enough? Would He settle for 60%?
In two words, Jesus…..”HOW MUCH?”
God gave His very best for me – He gave His son. His one and only son. He emptied Heaven – left it vacant and bankrupt in an effort to express His love for me. But instead of straining to give God my all – my very best – I find myself negotiating with the Creator. I spend more time trying to figure out ways that I can shortchange God than I do serving Him. I call out to God, “How much is it going to take?” And when He replies, “All of it!”…well…I, too, become a whining, lukewarm, unsalty “Christian.”
All of it…because He is worthy of that…and then some!