Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dad and the Éclair

  Dad and the Éclair

When I was a preteen, my family and I were having dinner once in a restaurant that had a dessert counter at the hostess station. So before you saw anything else you were greeted with sugary temptation. And that’s where it was…the most beautiful éclair I had ever seen. Every other dessert in the case seemed to be angled in such a way as to draw attention to its magnificence. It was lit so beautifully. I knew I had to have it. From the love at first sight moment on, it became my mission to convince my dad of the absolute need for it in my life. Bugged the poor man. While we waited for a table. All throughout dinner. Because God forbid dad forget I wanted that éclair.  

After my incessant reminders, I had finally worn him down and he ordered the éclair, I am sure, to give himself back the gift of peace. So I sat and waited for the waiter to bring me the dessert that I was sure was going to be heaven on a plate. Took the first bite, expectantly. The taste could best be described as a combination of sawdust and curdled cream. I could not believe that this thing that was so beautiful while on display could taste like a punishment. It was in this moment that I understood that petrification does just that – preserves the pretty. Because I am confident the éclair had died days, if not weeks (!) prior. Pretty sure I cried. Poor dad. Because now the begging had turned to “Please don’t make me eat this. It is nasty and spoiled.” Dad laughed his head off and told me that I was in fact going to eat the whole thing because I had bothered him so much about it.

When I recently reminded my dad of this story, he had no recollection. (Of course not –for him it was another day of parenting. For me, it was a memory seared by the realization that sugar could be punishment.) He is, however, convinced it was a brilliant parenting move; I think I even saw him pat his own back over this moment he doesn’t remember. But I remember it vividly – even moreso today (hold tight for the Jesus Juke) because I am in a season that flat-out sucks. And I do the same thing with Jesus. Beg Him for the thing I think will save everything. That will fulfill the dream. Be amazing. Fill me up. God (unfortunately/fortunately) does not wear down. He cannot be convinced the nasty éclair is actually wonderful. I would love to say in all the years I have known Jesus, my first instinct is to just trust. But the truth is I struggle with it, and that is likely why I keep ending up back in this classroom.

When my daughter was little, any kind of change could send her reeling, even small ones. But her world was ever so small, so to her, these changes were not inconsequential. Once when she had outgrown her hat and it no longer covered her ears, I bought her a new one. The first time I put it on her, she had the kind of fit that makes a new parent question his or her ability to carry out the job functions. I tried everything to calm her down, aside from removing the hat. She wanted the hat gone. I knew that I knew better. So I whispered to her, “I love you. You need to trust me.” As I said the last part, I felt God breathe the same words into my own ears and heart. My daughter could not begin to fathom my knowledge of the world nor my motivations regarding her. My experience was so much vaster than hers. So her only choice was to know ME. Know I had proven I loved her and was taking care of her. I do what I think is in the best interest of my daughter. Me with my limited control. My limited knowledge. Love motivates me, so right or wrong (because I am fallible) that alone makes me trustworthy. And then there is God. With actual control. All-knowing. Infallible. When I think of my daughter’s meltdown, I can’t help but land on the simple truth: I know more than she is even aware exists. So how much more potent is it when God, who spoke all of it into existence with mere words, tells me I can trust Him? It is His system. His design. Talk about knowing more than I am aware exists…

There seems to always be a moment, almost a last stage of faith if you will, where our own will gives, our fear is booted out, we release our grip and a beautiful relinquishment occurs. The place where we lean into the “what ifs,” release any notion that we have control, and surrender. This is when God says, “Now I can move.” We see this so gorgeously illustrated in the stories of Esther and Jacob. When Esther makes the decision to align herself with her people (the Jews) and go before the king –breaking the law because she was not formally invited to speak to him – to petition him on behalf of the Jews scripture records her saying, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16) Jacob expresses a similar sentiment when he must send his son –the only remaining son of Rachel –to the governor of Egypt and says, “If I am bereaved. I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:14) Jesus, knowing the cross was before Him, says the same thing in its rawest form while He prayed in Gethsemane, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death…My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” (Matthew 26:38-39) So we give up in order to be free. To get out of His way so He can accomplish what is infinitely better than our short sightedness can see.

Beth Moore stated it more eloquently than I can in her Esther Bible study, “Our conditional trust not only makes us an open target for enemy torment; it also positions us as negotiators and beggars before God instead of secure children who trust their lives to their faithful Father…The most critical breakthrough of faith you and I could ever experience is to let God bring us to a place where we trust Him –period. We don’t just trust Him to let us avoid what we fear most. We determine to trust Him no matter what, even if our worst nightmare befalls us.”

I am glad that despite my pleading, God goes not give me the éclair just because I want it. His infinite love and wisdom wants better for me than some spoiled éclair. Even when I don’t always agree.


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