Thursday, January 22, 2004

How the Cookie (and Dad) Crumbled

I have an idea to pitch to best-selling co-authors Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye: "Left Behind: The First Grade Prophecies." The story centers on a seven-year-old boy. We'll call him "Andrew Boone." (Ever notice how the really good novels always have characters with cool-sounding names?)

Anyway, the plot follows this brilliant but rather absent-minded youngster as he goes to school each day, a school we'll call, say, "Wylie Elementary." The prophecy comes from Andrew's mother, "Amy," who's almost a caricature of the perfect woman: strong, beautiful, and way more talented and disciplined than Andrew's father, who'll be called, for lack of something inspirational, "Grant." Amy's daily prophecy revolves around which item Andrew will "leave behind" when Grant takes him to school. Here's where the plot twists: sometimes Andrew will "leave" the important item at home, occasionally stepping over said item to walk out the door; while other times, he'll "leave behind" something on the backseat of Grant's car.

The Tribulation Period is that split-second Andrew realizes what he's done and asks his teacher, "Ms. Jensen" (tee hee hee, this is too good) if he can call home to have the item brought up to school, only to realize Mom "prophesied" his forgetfulness and probably won't be in a mood to cover for him.

I thought about having a Thousand Year Rain, but the story is set in a dusty, west Texas town called "Abilene" where it never so much as sprinkles.

The best part is how easily it would mesh with the original "Left Behind" series, which scares the living daylights out of unwitting readers with its end times imagery. Most seven-year-olds, though, would rather fight off Revelation's dragons and horses and beasts - oh, my! - than incur the wrath of a mother scorned.

Just to show you how art imitates life: yesterday, my son, also named "Andrew" (the quotation marks aren't on the birth certificate), was reminded by his mother, Amy, to make sure he didn't leave the cookies she'd baked for his teacher, Ms. Jensen, in the backseat of Daddy's car, which is precisely what he did when I dropped him off less than five minutes later. Immediately upon entering his class, he experienced a toll house epiphany and asked Ms. Jensen if he could call home. Mom wasn't especially forgiving and suggested he call Dad, which he did, leaving a message on my phone explaining the cookie conundrum.

My first reaction - before wondering if I should teach him a lesson on the importance of keeping track of his things - my visceral, instinctive response was to figure out how quickly I could take him his cookies. I'm not saying bailing him out was the right thing to do. In fact, it may've been good to have an innocuous incident like that to teach him a lesson with no real harm done. I just found it interesting that my initial thought, despite my frustration at his forgetfulness, was to give him what he wanted.

Luckily, God doesn't have to wonder what's best for us. He knows when we need to learn our lessons and when we need our cookies. And while He demands and expects obedience, oh, thank heaven for 7:11, specifically Matthew 7:11, which reads: "If you...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Andrew didn't have a good reason why he'd left his cookies or why I should go out of my way to bring them back to school, nor did he idly promise to remember better next time. He merely asked if I would do it...and I did. And when I walked into his classroom to deliver the goods, I wasn't thinking about teaching him a lesson or how his absent-mindedness puts others out; no, I was thinking about how excited he'd be when he saw me walk in with those cookies.

I only wish I was as pure in my love for and dependence on my Heavenly Father as my son is with me.

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