Tag Archive | Father

The Parable of the Ketchup

“Mommy, do girls eat ketchup?” my then three-year-old daughter asked.

To say her question caught me by surprise would be an understatement.

“Why, yes, honey, girls eat ketchup.”

“Then why don’t we?”

Good question. Valid question. You see, I do not like ketchup. I do not like it on my sandwiches; I do not like it to dip my french fries in. I do not particularly like it baked on top of meatloaf, although I can tolerate it providing it’s not too much. If it is, I will scrape off as much of it as I can because, let’s face it, meatloaf is just too good to pass up. But that’s beside the point.

My daughter’s question took me by surprise because it never occurred to me that, for the better part of three years, she had sat at Burger King or McDonald’s or Wendy’s and watched her brothers and dad dip their french fries in ketchup, but had never once done so herself because her mom didn’t. And my heart sank.

It sank even further after her celebrated first dip of a french fry into the ketchup resulted in a “yum-yum” moment.

My thoughts ran wild.

“How long had she been wondering why boys could eat ketchup and not girls?”

“How many times had she sat there longing to taste the ketchup, but too timid to ask?”

To think I had unknowingly deprived her of something she obviously liked and enjoyed pained me. “Are there other things I’m unwittingly depriving her of?”

It was then I realized, perhaps for the first time, just how much my daughter was watching me — even down to my eating habits. If she was so observant to notice I did not dip my french fries in ketchup when everyone else at the table did, what other things had she noticed — large or small? Had she noticed my speech? Had she noticed my choice of friends? Had she noticed my work ethic? Had she noticed my habit of Bible study and prayer?

In thinking back on this video memory from 20+ years ago, I now have other questions facing me.

Am I observing my Heavenly Father as closely as my daughter was observing me? Am I trying to mimic His life in order to be a reflection of Him?

Just as my daughter did not understand the ketchup on the table before her was something available to her, I wonder what blessings I’m leaving on the table because of wrong assumptions or misunderstandings. What blessings am I missing out on because I mistakenly believe the blessings I see in the lives of others are not available to me? What hopes and dreams are going unfulfilled because I mistakenly assume they’re for others, not me?

So, today I promised myself I will no longer continue to sit back and “stare at the ketchup” I see others partaking of. I will hold unswervingly to the hope I profess, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). I will be an active participant by boldly approaching God’s throne of grace where I have already received one blessing after another (John 1:16).

I will acknowledge God’s blessings of the past.

I will rejoice in God’s blessings in the present.

I will anxiously await God’s blessings in the future.

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” (Psalm 71:14)

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Early Morning Wake-up Call

One morning last week, I woke up earlier than normal and was not happy about it. It wouldn’t have been too big a deal except for the fact I had gone to bed a lot later than normal — I mean A LOT later! After 30 minutes or so of seriously trying to fall back to sleep, I surrendered and got up to begin my morning routine, knowing that my afternoon was going to be a long one!

As I began my Bible reading and journaling, my mind wandered and began replaying a mental video of something that had happened nearly 29 years ago — something I had not thought about in a very long time. I paused to take in the scene.

Christmas, 1984. My husband and I and two young boys had made the trek from our home in Tennessee to visit our families in Indiana. One afternoon as the boys, ages 2 1/2 and 1, were napping on the couch, my father-in-law parked himself on the floor directly in front of them. After watching them sleep for the first few minutes, he then spent the better part of the next hour gently kissing their foreheads, wrapping their fingers around his, patting their backs, and holding their tiny little feet. As the mother of these 2 busy bees, I sat there anxiously praying that he would not wake them up. They desperately needed their rest and I desperately needed mine! My father-in-law, however, desperately needed to shower them with his all-consuming love and affection. It was almost as if he couldn’t stand even these few minutes apart from them.

I can picture him now, excitedly rubbing his two hands together in anticipation to nap time being over. He had things he wanted the boys to see; things to do. In his delight, he didn’t want to waste a precious minute with his two young grandsons. Oh, to be loved like that!

Then it hit me! Is it possible I am awake because God, in his great love and affection for me desperately had something he couldn’t wait to show me? Something he couldn’t wait to share with me? Something so exciting that it couldn’t wait a couple more hours? Had God spent the 3 hours I did manage to sleep waiting at my side until he couldn’t wait another moment? Had God been holding my hand as I slept? Had God curled my fingers around his forefinger, admiring this creation of his? What an exciting thought!

So I promptly opened my Bible and began reading where I had left off, settling on a verse I just know God placed there years ago for me to discover that morning. Although the verse God gave me that morning was from Jeremiah, let me share another one with you that will speak to all of us no matter the circumstances of our lives right now: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1) What love this one daughter felt during that early morning hour!

By the way, I did fall back to sleep for another hour. And what a peaceful, restful hour that proved to be!

And my father-in-law? He passed away a short 6 weeks later, not able to fight the pneumonia that had settled in his already diseased lungs.

Thank you, God, for giving me this mental video some 29 years ago to be replayed in this early morning hour, reminding me just how much you love me. Thank you, God, for your all-consuming love and affection for me.

The Start of an Endless List?

A few months ago several ladies and I began spending part of our Sunday morning class time looking at attributes and characteristics of God. Each week we looked at a different passage of scripture and listed those we found.

The first passage we looked at was a portion of the Parable of the Lost Son, Luke 15:11-24.

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (NIV)

We were stunned at how many attributes and characteristics we discovered in this parable. It was amazing!

Let me share with you the 20 — yes, 20!!! — we found:

God . . . accepts us as we are (but that doesn’t mean he intends for us to stay that way!)
God . . . is affectionate
God . . . celebrates
God . . . is compassionate
God . . . is forgiving
God . . . is full of grace
God . . . is generous
God . . . is a God of second chances
God . . . is hands-on
God . . . knows us
God . . . looks for our return when we stray from him
God . . . is loving
God . . . is patient with us
God . . . recognizes us even when we are distant from him
God . . . rejoices
God . . . runs to us when he sees us coming
God . . . sees us from afar
God . . . is sympathetic
God . . . waits for us
God . . . welcomes us

Yes, some of these could be labeled as synonyms, but even synonyms often have slightly different connotations to them.

And, yes, there are probably more that could be discovered in this passage. (If you do, please let me know so I can add them to my notebook!)

From time to time we will add to this list. Attributes and characteristics of God can be found literally from Genesis to Revelation. There are so many to discover. Truth be told, I suspect the list is endless.

I challenge you to spend some time in this parable and see how many of these attributes or characteristics of God from which you have benefitted. You might also consider starting your own notebook listing these and/or journaling your own personal experience with the God who loved you during your own prodigal season, be it days, weeks, months, or years.