Meal times were much more simple before our son started eating "grown-up" foods. When we sat down to eat, Laura and I had our plates, and our son had his bowl. We ate from our food, and he ate from his, and I don't think it ever occurred to him to wonder what we were eating.
But that changed when we started feeding him food off our plates. Once we started that, from then on, he would always be curious about what was on our plates.
And that's fine, but sometimes it's a bit inconvenient. There are some foods that we don't feed our son yet (for example, his pediatrician has recommended that we not feed him peanut butter just yet, and if I'm eating eggs with yolks that are a bit runny, I won't feed them to him).
This morning our son had a bowl of cereal, but I had a breakfast sandwich made with bread, cheese and eggs (slightly runny). On a normal morning, he will go at his cereal with great gusto, and never stop until it's finished. But this morning, since I was eating a breakfast sandwich, he was extremely curious about that, and would not eat his own food, because he was determined to have some of mine.
The interesting thing was that as soon as my sandwich was gone, he went immediately to his cereal and gobbled it all down without hesitation.
He knows that his cereal is quite yummy, and under normal circumstances he doesn't hesitate to dive into it. But today his desire for something else kept him (temporarily) from enjoying his own food.
That made me think of a couple verses in scripture about the blessings God gives to us, and the way we respond to those blessings. Just as I don't give my son things that I don't think are good for him, God doesn't give us things that aren't good for us. James 1:17 says that all good and perfect gifts come down from the Father. And under normal circumstances, I would rejoice in those good and perfect gifts.
But sometimes something else comes along that God doesn't intend for me to have -- something that would be unhealthy for me. And what happens? Silly me, I stop focusing on the good things God has given me, and I start focusing on the things He hasn't given me. The result? I cease to enjoy the good things that God intended for me to have.
This is one of the great secrets of contentment -- to understand and have faith that what God has given me is far better than what He hasn't given me.
In Philippians 4:11, Paul says that he has learned to be content whatever his circumstances. What about you? Are you content? Or are you always distracted from what you do have by the things you don't have?
Whenever I go to camps, Sunday Schools, or Vacation Bible Schools, I always bring my puppet Jeffrey with me. Jeffrey is a timberwolf, and although he claims to be "fierce and ferocious," he's really "cute and cuddly." And children love to pet him. He's the only one of my puppets that I will let anyone touch.
And the children absolutely love being able to pet him!
Two weeks ago I was teaching a Vacation Bible School, and I had a group of young children (mostly under the age of six years old). As I got to know this group of children, I realized that for several of the children, if I brought Jeffrey out, it would be simply an opportunity to pull his tail, squish his head, and other things that I didn't want happening to Jeffrey. And that if I told them not to, this particular group of children might see it as an invitation to do so!
So Jeffrey, although he made several visits to the VBS, never came out where the children could touch and pet him.
They missed out on a very simple pleasure that would have made their evening very special, and they never even realized what they were missing out on.
I was thinking about this in relation to the Israelites going to the promised land -- God told them to go in and take it, and they said "No!" And because they would not listen to God (as Psalms 95:8 says, they "hardened their hearts") they never got to even see the land God had promised them.
And I wonder how often I'm like that group of children, that missed out on a simple pleasure and never knew what they missed. I wonder how often I'm like the Israelites, who missed out on an extraordinary blessing, and never knew what they missed.
I wonder how many times I've said "No" to God, said "No" to what is right, and I never even realized what blessing I was saying "No" to.
How much better for us, when God speaks, to say "Yes" to Him. To not risk missing out on the things God has in store for us.