The memory of one particular evening when my wife and I lived in Florida remains fresh in my mind. We were invited by some friends to listen to their children's contemporary Christian band play some of their new songs at the "Coffee Spot" in New Port Ritchie, Florida. It's a little coffee shop with a stage for live bands and Christian performers. We would later question the wisdom of having brought our then eighteen month old son, Sebastian.
Sebastian has always been an active boy. Before he grew to over twenty four inches, I would often say that he was very much like a 2 foot tall tornado! At first everything was fine. Sebastian was entertained by our friend's youngest daughter for a while and then he took a few bites of his dinner. Once the opening act started is when everything fell apart. The opening act was a miming evangelist who garnered an unfavorable amount of attention from my son.
The "Coffee Spot" is a fairly intimate place which did not work in our favor. When mime was introduced everyone in the room got quiet -- everyone except for Sebastian that is. He spent the first ten minutes of the mimes performance doing everything he could to escape my grasp and place that mime within his grasp!
After I realized that my little boy was gaining ground on getting away from me, I looked for a fast get away. I found relieve in the form of a back entrance way several feet away from the mime. It was at this point that I realized my only recourse was to tickle Sebastian into submission, and that is exactly what I did. His laughter was probably distracting to the audience and it surely it was distracting to the mime but at least this stopped him from attacking the mime!
I wish that I could say that this was the end of this affair and that after the mime finished his act sanity was resumed. Unfortunately that was only to be the beginning. Wrongly assuming that Sebastian would sit in our laps and listen to the music we sat down at a table in front of the stage, I ordered one of my favorite treats in all of the world; a frozen-blended-vanilla-late-frapachino with whipped cream and a straw. I placed Sebastian on my lap as his mother prepared to feed him from a jar of delicious looking sweet potato baby food.
Eating his dinner was not at all what Sebastian had in mind. The activity of the evening had placed him on sensory overload and he surely did not have time to stop for food!
With each spoonful of sweet potato placed to his lips came a firm shut of his mouth and a twist of his head from one side to the other, causing a splash of sweet potatoes to land near, around and very often, on me! By this time in the evening, the mime had left and our friends "Truth Bomb" had begun to play. Sebastian now wanted their guitars and laughed hysterically each time he believed himself to be close to freeing himself from my grasp. This went on for some time with moments of peace while this child regained his strength for the next attempt at freedom from his father's embrace.
Finally the show was over and I realized that I had yet to take a sip of the wonderful frozen-blended drink I had purchased only an hour ago, though it felt as though much more time than that had actually passed. As I picked up my cup to take a drink I realized, much to my surprise, that where only whipped cream had once topped my coffee now there was a big splash of sweet potato which had become entangled with the whipped cream. There I sat, Sebastian on my lap looking up at me with his infectious smile, with sweet potatoes in my coffee.
As I sat there in this moment that seemed to last forever, I realized that I had a decision to make as a father. On the one hand, I could have chosen to be upset that Sebastian had caused so much turmoil that evening. Oh, I could have sulked over the sweet potatoes that had found their way into my coffee; I could have even become angry. On the other hand, how could I allow any form of anger to flood my soul when this precious little child was looking at me with a truly rare and beautiful smile which pours from not only his facial expression, but his eyes, and indeed his very soul?
It occurred to me in that moment that God is very much like a loving father with sweet potatoes in His coffee. I make no claims to comparing my love as a father with that of God, nor do I mean to trivialize the reality of God's love. I mean only to submit to you that the God of the Bible is not a vengeful, wrath-filled God of destruction and judgment, inasmuch as He is a loving Father who cares for His creation and is thoroughly concerned with every one of His children.
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