I recently sat across the table at dinner-time from a little eight year old Chinese girl named Lauren. I was working my day-job for the children’s home, preparing for one of our annual fundraisers. Lauren’s parents adopted the now precocious, always smiling, 8 year old from China when she was a baby through our adoption services program. Over dinner, they shared stories of the many hoops they jumped through in the adoption process to bring her home with them.
Halfway through the meal, I saw Lauren notice the strawberries sitting on her dad’s cheesecake plate next to her. She glanced at them a few times hungrily and then, taking her fork, she reached toward them, hovering it’s tines over the biggest juiciest one. “Dad,” she said, “can I have this strawberry?” He didn’t hear her at first, involved in another conversation. She asked again, “Dad, can I have this strawberry?” He turned to her and silently looked at her for a long moment.
“Can I?” she asked.
“You want the biggest, juiciest one, don’t you?” he commented with a smile.
“Can I have it?” she asked again.
I noticed that fork she held hovering over the strawberry. It was now practically grazing the big red fruit, ready to plunge into the berry so she could gobble it up. It was as if she knew he would say yes. She was just waiting for it. Something told me her experience had taught her that her father wouldn’t deny her any good thing. So she had her fork ready.
Seeing Lauren’s expectation and hope seemed like a strange paradox to me, because I looked across the room at the tables to my right and left where our residents, who had also joined us for the dinner, sat eating. Many of these youth, ages 12-17, have suffered terrible traumas – abuse, neglect, abandonment. They have so little – no fathers next to them, let alone the type who are willing to give up their desserts for their hungry kids. Some of them come into our program with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They have little hope left within them for a better future, and belief in a God who gives good things is, to some of them, a ridiculous notion.
Sometimes their doubt in a God who is trustworty, let alone the kind that gives extravagantly, is the same kind of doubt I think we all subscribe to. I wish we all could learn the kind of hope and anticipation for God’s best – his very best – that Lauren showed me that Friday night, because I think most of us spend our time on earth with our forks tucked safely away. We don’t want to hope for a God who would be good enough to do immeasureably more than all we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). We know we have a God who likes to give us the biggest, juiciest strawberries off his own plate. But we still get surprised when he does it. I still don’t think we understand that not only would he give us the strawberry, he’d give us that whole damn piece of cheesecake and then some, and he’d do all of that for us after having traveled the world to come and find me and take us home with him to live forever, just like Lauren’s dad did.
That’s the Good News.
That’s everyday theology for you.
~~~WHAT DO YOU THINK?~~~
Have you ever had a moment where you tucked your fork away instead of anticipating the Father’s joy in giving you something good?