Like many modern fathers, I never seem to have enough time to spend with my children. So I was pleased that I had to "watch" the two boys last Saturday. We ran a couple of errands, got the car washed, and then they decided it was time for lunch. I asked them where they wanted to eat. Big mistake.
They chose Burger King. Not my favorite place, but I wanted to please them, so off we went.
After getting our burgers and fries we went to a corner table. We enjoyed the simple fare and the joy of just being together. It was a delight to spend time with them. Collin, the eight-year-old, and I put meaning to the term "fast food." But Nathaniel, the two-year-old, was in no hurry. Collin and I, somewhat impatiently, sipped the last drops of our soft drinks, and waited for the little guy to finish.
Not really thinking about it, but bored and a little anxious to leave, I reached over to Nathaniel’s heap of French fries and extracted one. A look of surprise and irritation overwhelmed his little face. "Mine!" he yelled.
Not too loud, but a great deal louder than polite conversation required. He held the small bag of fries as far away as his short arms would allow.
I was stunned. I sat there in silence. The cold French fry hung suspended at the end of my fingers inches from my mouth. "Do I eat it?" "Do I put it back so as not to unsettle him”? I ate it. He watched me with an accusing eye for the longest time.
Almost instantly four things flashed into my mind. I didn’t say anything, but I thought, "You ungrateful little chump. Where do you think these fried potatoes came from anyway? Don’t you understand the source of these things? I’m the one who bought them. I carried them over here to this table. I took the paper off your straw. I tore open the end of that silly little catsup package. How can you behave like this? Don’t you realize that I’m the one who gave you these French fries in the first place?"
Then I thought, "Don’t you realize that if I wanted to I could take them all away from you in a heart beat? You don’t realize who you’re dealing with. If I didn’t love you, if you were anyone else and you acted like this, I might just eat them all. On the other hand, I could cover you in French fries if I wanted. If I wanted to, I could go over there and order fifty bags and bury you in these greasy things."
And thirdly, it wasn’t really a thought but more of a feeling, "If you love me, if you really love me, is it really too much to let me have one lousy French fry? ...
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