snack bars and the theology of gratitude
If we have one aim in child-rearing, I’m beginning to believe it should be to teach and exemplify gratitude. If we ever discipline, let it be to encourage a grateful heart.
There is only one store that sells their snack bars at a reasonable price, so I go there to buy them because I enjoy doing special things for my boys. Their habit is to wake very early, way before I’m prepared to whip up some breakfast, so they ask for milk and a snack bar, and then they snuggle with us during our quiet time.
An organic snack bar with a Sesame Street character on the package is granted, and so are clothes, toys, hot meals, a variety of drinks, and our tenderness toward each of their strange personalities. It is granted that I kiss them when their faces are near and that I clean and change them when they’re dirty. It is granted that their daddy and I love each other. They know no other way. We know no life without innumerable gifts, whether the scale be large or small.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
A two year old writhes in the floor, kicking in anger – in rejection of a broken snack bar – screaming, “It’s broken. I don’t want it to break.”
I know his perspective because I often share it; I am right and I have my rights. I believe that it is my right to go on vacation to the beach. It is my right to wear a new dress to the party. It is my right to prove my point and to win arguments. These things, of course, are not true.
He believes he deserves an unbroken snack bar because in receiving so many gifts, he has believed that he earned the gifts. (What, by helping me clean the house?!) “For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed” (Romans 1:17a), which means that my own unrighteousness is revealed, my own unrightness.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
Acknowledging our minimal rightness and our innumerable gifts is one of the greatest ways to live out the Gospel.
Recognition of Gifts builds a Backbone of Trust, and when we trust, we have patience and faith that the Father, as only He can, will follow through with our care, our good, our salvation.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (Phil. 2:14-15)
Gratitude shines the light of the truth on our hearts. Gratitude makes us shine like stars. Gratitude spurs acts of grateful obedience and calls the Father our rightful Master, our completely graceful Redeemer. Complaint, self-glory, and self-righteousness leads to a darkened heart, where we become our own ruin, and this is God’s rightful and very reasonable wrath. He is the Righteous Gifter, Creator God.
All of this thinking has caused me to ask what it really is that I believe about my rights and my own righteousness. As I am with my children, with more experience and knowledge, God is with me (except multiplied by infinity.)
Yes, the snack bar has broken in half. Yes, we work a 400 hour work week. Yes, the divorce and the cancer. Yes, misunderstandings and hurt feelings … volcanoes, ice storms, and puberty.
But, Over All, look at Him, invisible, everywhere, clearly seen, eternal, and YES, shine about Him all over your children, all over the neighborhood, all over the universe.