When Jake left for his tour of duty in Iraq, I decided I would give up sweets while he was gone. I guess I did it as a witness, I don’t think I was bargaining with God to bring him home safe, for sure I was doing it to honor Jake’s own service and sacrifice. Strange enough, it wasn’t hard. Now don’t think that’s because I don’t like sweets much. If you know me, you know I am addicted to a small spoon or two of desert after dinner, after every, dinner and I crave, absolutely crave, chocolate throughout the day. I have been buying M&M’s since I was four. I guess I just did it to feel close to Jake while he was gone, to have some empathy in his (and others) soldiers in sacrificing creature comforts. And then there was this feeling inside me.. it was the right thing to do. You ever had that? You just know, without thinking or analyzing something, even if it costs you, to do what your heart tells you. (Kinda embarrassing to talk about giving up sweets for a soldier, ‘costing me’, but there you go, it is what it is.)
So when Jake came back, both at his mid term leave and when he redeployed, he brought me fancy chocolates that he bought at the Dublin airport. He bought special ones, fancy with finer chocolate than M&M’s have, ones he thought would make the end of my abstinence and his return that much more sweeter. I kept all those little gold papers the fine chocolates were wrapped in. Funny thing was, I never waivered or was even tempted to dishonor this personal promise. Unlike other promises I have made to myself and God over the years, I was solid in my conviction and temptation never reared her ugly head to dissuade me.
So you know where this story is going.. Of course, when Josh left for his service to our country, in a much quieter way but with equal conviction of purpose, I once again, gave up sweets. The strange thing, it’s been harder this time. Not harder in why I want to do it, not harder in knowing that it honor’s Josh’s service exactly as it did Jake’s, harder in that I worry I won’t accomplish it. I even dream I don’t honor my promise. And then the other night, the thing my dreams have been made of, I almost rationalized why it would be okay to eat a bite of smoothly moist, butter cream frosted birthday cake in celebration of a friend’s birthday. This friend has a big piece of my heart and that was how my mind reasoned, an exception might ought to be made in this case. To be honest, I am embarrassed to tell you this. About now you are either thinking the whole idea is silly or you are embarrassed right along with me and a bit surprised at how weak my resolve might be. But in those few seconds, I learned a truth that could never have happened if life hadn’t brought me to that birthday celebration, sons in deployment, and meaningless sacrifices of chocolate and cake. You realize that’s the way things work when you follow the good, deep down things from your heart. Looking at that piece of cake on that plate, chocolate dripping in decoration down its sides, I knew that sometimes there are no exceptions to be made, sometimes you must just hold out, regardless. I knew that to rationalize taking a bite would open the door to more reasons to not honor my promise. It wasn’t about the cake, it was about staying true to the things you know you ought to. Maybe those good friends sensed that moment of weakness, and in chorus and with words and encouragement, they acknowledged and supported this little attempt of mine to show my pride and honor for Josh, that youngest son that God so graciously has loaned me here on Earth. Josh will come back different, stronger among other things, because he has, under all circumstances, remained resolute to his promise and his service, resolute in the face of circumstances much more serious than denying himself a piece of cake. I pray that for him. Maybe, God willing, I will too.
Follow the things of your heart, the ones that come from the knowledge that God is in them. Surround yourself with friends who will support you in those good things, and above all, be resolute once you know what your heart tells you. Even silly things, like birthday cake, can get you where God wants you.
Bible Verse of the Day: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Quote of the Day: “Calvin: Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man? Hobbes: I’m not sure that man needs the help”