Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My Three Year Old Son, God and Peanuts

My office is in my home, which is great in some ways. One of the best parts of having my office at home is the amount of time I get to see my family: my kids love coming into the office to show me their home school work or art projects. Of course they also come to me when one of their siblings upsets them, which in a family of five kids can add up some times.

Lately my 3 year old son has been coming in with the cutest look on his face to tell me how much he loves me. "Hi Daddy, I love you," is enough to melt the toughest man's heart. But once I look down at him to give him love he proceeds with the next line, "Daddy, I'm hungry".

It took me a couple of times to figure out that he knew exactly what he was doing. He had figured out that I like to keep a jar of peanuts on my desk and he loves peanuts. He knows that if he butters me up I will be much more sympathetic to his request for some peanuts.

Even though I know exactly what he is up to, I always give him a handful of peanuts. He may think he has somehow tricked me into giving him the peanuts, but I do it because I love him and I want him to be happy.

Isn't it funny how we sometimes do this with our Father in heaven? I have noticed that sometimes when I am praying for something I seem to be extra repentant or lay it on thick as if that was going to make God more sympathetic to my prayers.

At church we have communion every Sunday, which I love so much. But, I find it funny that on Saturday night and Sunday morning I am more aware of my thoughts, words and actions because of communion. Somehow I think because it is so close to communion time I need to watch myself more. I always question myself and ask why I don't have the same sense of urgency and reverence on Monday morning.

I have always held the belief that I will not lie to my children for any reason. I will not tell them there is a Santa Claus so they better behave or they won't get any gifts. I will not tell them that a certain food is something else to get them to eat it. I just want to be honest with them.

I want to instill in them that they should be totally honest with me. I want them to know they never need to manipulate me in any way: they can just come to me with whatever is on their minds. I don't want them to try to be extra good just because they want or need something. I want them to be good because it is the right thing to do. I want them to tell me they love me just because they do, not to get something.

(As I am writing this my son just came in to get some peanuts. This time he sat on my lap and asked me questions about stuff on my desk and then pointed to the peanuts.)

So my question to myself and all of you is simple. Do you change the way you talk to God when you are wanting something from Him? Do you suddenly act more contrite in your prayers? Do you pour on the "Christian buzz words" to make your prayers seem more sincere?

I will be honest, sometimes I do. Just like my son wanting some peanuts, I sometimes think I have to butter Him up to show how much I really want or need something.

God knows our hearts and He sees right through all of that garbage. I do not believe He wants us to clean up our acts just because something special is coming up: He wants us to clean up our acts because He loves us and wants the best for us. He wants us to talk to Him with straight forward honesty. He wants the real us.

I don't give my son peanuts just because he sits on my lap and warms my heart. I give my son peanuts because he likes them and I love him. I still want him to come and sit on my lap and tell me he loves me. I still want him to warm my heart. I just want him to do that because he loves me, not just to get some peanuts.

In the same way, God wants us to come into His presence and praise Him not just when we need something, but because we love Him.

For Christ I stand,

Bryan Kemper

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