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Open Wide

Have you ever watched a baby ogle a hamburger?  An ice-cream cone?  What is it about big people food that mesmerizes them so?  Is it that Mommy and Daddy like it, so they know it must be good?  Is it more colorful and substantial looking than what they normally get to eat?  Maybe we humans just always want what we can’t have. 

What’s really funny is watching a toddler who is new to the table actually try those foods they’ve been ogling for so long.  So many of them quickly decide that they only want SOME of the grown-up food their parents feed them.  Pudding?  French fries?  Pizza?  Yes, please!  Vegetables?  Roast?  Hard-to-make, organic and healthy first birthday cake with non-dairy cream-cheese icing?  Um, no.

Squirming, covering their eyes with their already food-covered hands, they poke out that bottom lip and turn away just as the spoon reaches their mouth.  Tag!  Another smear of whatever right on Junior’s cheek.  Then, before Mom or Dad–in some cases, poor Grandma or Grandpa, who always look a little more weary and desperate than Mom or Dad–can get it with a napkin, he wipes it into his hair, ears, eyes, or eyebrows.  Maybe I’m a little sadistic, but it’s actually a lot of fun to watch if you aren’t the one doing the feeding. 

Today, I watched the bird version of the same thing.  I always assumed that fuzzy-bald bird babies ate whatever their mama brought them.  Not so. 

There is a nest made of mud just outside the staff cafeteria here at Falls Creek.  Every year, the same bird (I assume) lays eggs in it.  It’s only about ten feet off the ground, so we all get to watch as the babies grow from barely visible beak tips to fully feathered teenager birds eager to leave the nest.  It’s pretty cool.

Today, I saw something I’d never seen before.  Frantic to satisfy her chirping babies–who are getting louder and pushier by the day, I’ve noticed–the mama bird brought bug after bug back to her nest.  In her brief absences, the babies would rearrange themselves, taking turns, it seemed, at the edge of the nest.  On the mama bird’s fourth trip or so, she perched on the edge of her mud nest and poked a bug into the wide-open mouth of the next in line.  To my surprise, the baby poked it right back at her.  She fluttered, cocked her head, and took it back. 

It was kind of a big bug, but the baby was the biggest in the nest.  Obviously, the mama bird thought he could handle it because as soon as he opened his mouth again, she poked it back in.  This time, he held it for a moment before poking it back at his mother.  Maybe he preferred ladybugs to the beetle he was being fed?  Ultimately, it didn’t matter.  The two poked back and forth until the mama bird won, and Junior swallowed his dinner. 

The mama bird’s fifth trip took a while.  I didn’t blame her.  I’d have taken a little “me time,” too, at that point.

I wonder how many of us are like Junior, asking–sometimes demanding–God to bless us, grow us, challenge us, take us deeper, having no idea what it is we are asking for.  Longing for the joy, peace, and blessing others are enjoying, we push to the front of the line, open our mouths, and wait to be fed something that will fill our bellies and thrill our taste-buds.

Something we don’t have to chew. 

You want me to read my Bible for myself?  Can’t I just wait until Sunday and listen to the sermon?  Something bite-sized.

You want me to go where?  Can’t I just volunteer at the food bank downtown or bake cookies for the neighbors? Something that tastes the way we want it to.

You want me to love whom, Lord?  Can’t I just focus on family and friends? But it doesn’t work like that.  Growth, challenge, knowledge, intimacy, and blessing are the by-products of obedience, self-denial, and sacrifice. 

Big people food.

Relax, Child of God. The Father knows what you want, what you can handle, and what you need (Matthew 6:8).  Even as you cry out, He is providing it (Philippians 4:19), for your good as well as your enjoyment (1Timothy 6:17).

Brace yourself, though.  It may not always look the way you want it to.  It may not be pleasant to the taste or easy to swallow at first, but it will fill you up.  It will bring you joy.  It will satisfy.

Open wide!   

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