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by Linda Rondeau


    It was warming up to be a very special Thanksgiving Day. We had been invited to spend the Holiday at the home of our daughter-in-law’s father. Our grandson called his other grandfather, “Granddad.” We had been enjoying the day at “Granddad’s” complete with the parade on TV, a walk to the playground, and a video of Tarzan. A four-year-old could not have asked for a nicer day.

    Jamal had behaved wonderfully, and as a reward, his mother allowed him to watch a second movie. His father warned him that dinner might be ready before it was finished. These conditions were shared with some trepidation. When dinner was ready, the video would have to be turned off and Jamal would have to come to the table to eat his dinner. He could finish watching the video after the meal. All was fully explained, and Jamal agreed to the conditions.

    This was indeed a treat, for Jamal’s parents were very strict regarding his video viewing. Of course, Jamal loves his videos. He talks about them for hours. His discussions revolve around the heroes and the villains. He wants to know the motivations behind each character’s action. He does not let the issue rest until he has a satisfactory answer. Sometimes these discussions take longer than the actual movie. But as a grandmother, I don’t mind. Our visits with him are few and far between, so I enjoy these interchanges and the sharing of ideas. I have found that a four year old can come up with some amazing ideas of fairness, justice, and right choices.

    And so it was with Peter Pan.

“Grandma, why is Captain Hook afraid of the alligator?”
“Grandma, Why is Tinker Bell so angry with Wendy?”
“Grandma, Why is Tiger Lily tied to the rock?”
And so forth and so on. And then... just at the most exciting part.... Wendy is sentenced to walk the plank and Peter Pan has just received a package with a bomb that is about to explode: the announcement comes that dinner is ready. The video has to be turned off and we must go to dinner. Finishing the video is not an option. His father’s instructions were quite explicit. The video was turned off in spite of Jamal’s objections.

Poor Jamal. His goodness quotient just could not hold.
    Poor Jamal. His goodness quotient just could not hold. It was too much. He just HAD to watch the rest of that video. His temper got the better of him and escalated to the point his parents had no choice but to put him into time out. His rage continued... He finally calmed down and joined the family for a late meal while they had dessert. Jamal’s little four-year-old mind will soon let the incident slip away into his lost childhood memory. No more was said. It was just one of those childhood things. However, his father would not soon forget.

    I could not help but notice the disappointment on his father’s face as he would stare at Jamal’s empty chair. How much he wanted his son to share at the banquet. It was a Holiday, a time to embrace the love of family. But the family was not all there. Because of the son’s ill behavior the father’s love could not lavish upon his son all that he wanted. The banquet table was incomplete. Because the son had chosen pleasure over the father’s presence, the son was now estranged from the father and it caused him pain.

    I wonder if that is how God must feel sometimes. He does not always call us to His side at our convenience. Often times, like Jamal, we are reluctant to leave our excitement. Our “videos of life” are too wonderful to let go for the moment. Like selfish children, God’s banquet table is not alluring enough to let go of this world and run into His presence. Yet He calls us into His loving arms to feast with Him. He desires to lavish us with His gifts. He is our loving Father who wants to hold us in His adoring presence. But all we offer Him are temper tantrums and surly defiance because we do not want to leave our temporary treasures behind. In place of the goodness he desires to lavish upon us, He must render discipline. And I think it must pain Him to see my empty chair at His table of grace.

Father, I pray that when you call, I will run to you. Let me shut off the world quickly, for I know your presence is lovelier than anything the world can show me. Amen.
      Title: ""
      Author: Linda Rondeau
      Publication Date: November 15, 2001


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