Monday, October 5, 2009

A Lesson from the Zoo

I started Dry Ground because I’m passionate about God and about writing. I love stories in every form, especially ones with redemptive qualities. Not redemptive like using verbs correctly or wielding the English language with masterful flair. No, I mean redemptive in that God makes a difference somewhere, somehow in a character’s life and His Truth is revealed somehow, even if it’s just a little bit.

I enjoy imagining and creating stories like this, but I also love encountering them in real life because that’s really the point of the made-up stories – to make an impact on actual lives.

Here’s one of my favorites – true story – chokes me up every time. I’m glad God allowed me to be there to see it first hand. I hope by relaying it in writing, this cute little boy will make an impact on you too.

A Lesson from the Zoo

When we lived in Nebraska, my husband and I enjoyed a day at the zoo. While taking a break to eat lunch in the cafeteria, we people-watched. (Who doesn’t?) Typical families with 2.2 children dug into their BBQ beef sandwiches and generic fries, some in familial bliss, others with a fair amount of tension. But all seemingly content to spend this particular sunny summer day at one of Omaha’s most revered attractions.

Toward the end of our meal, I observed a father pushing a stroller in our direction, a young boy at his heals. They were obviously searching for an available clean table. The young boy carried his own tray laden with some napkins, utensils and a surprisingly large bowl of greasy macaroni and cheese. I noted how well the boy handled the awkward tray and how bright his eyes shined. He followed his father faithfully, beaming with pride.

The boy stopped, however, at the table next to ours, which had just been vacated by another family. He set his tray down on one of the chairs, confident this would be the table to occupy. The father turned around, though, and told his son in a loving and gentle voice that the table was still dirty and that they should look for another. That didn’t seem to faze the boy as he attempted to pick up his burden. But the macaroni and cheese slid to one corner of the tray, making it top heavy and unmanageable. Still, he struggled with great determination to pick it up. Just in time, the father appeared out of nowhere and lifted the bowl off his son’s tray, offering words of encouragement and help.

I, for one, felt relieved that the father had intervened because I really didn’t want to sit next to a spilled mess of oily noodles and cheese. But what impressed me more than the father’s wise intervention was the boy’s response. He easily picked up his lightened load, followed after his father and said with great relief, “Thanks for making it lighter, Dad.”

My eyes misted, the phrase uttered so innocently and with such gratitude, offering me, a silent by-stander, a much-needed lesson from God.

I struggle through life carrying my tray. Sometimes it is light, other times heavy and awkward. Sometimes I carry it with determination and pride, more often with grief and grumbling. But no matter what weighs down my tray, God knows what I can handle. And just before I drop the whole thing, He comes along and lifts something off, making it more manageable. That reminder in itself is refreshing and comforting. But the question I must ask myself is – do I respond like that little child, with not only relief but also gratitude and thanksgiving? And do I do it in a manner that suggests I knew He would do it because He loves me and it is in His nature to care for me?

I hope I can remember to emulate that little boy, his innocent, unconditional trust in his daddy, and his grateful response:

Thanks for making it lighter, Dad.


Anonymous said...

With tears this morning, thank you.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I will never look at Macaroni and Cheese the same way because it will remind me of this story Lori. This was one to share...for sure. And, He does make our burdens light when we put our faith, trust and devotion in HIM. Thanks. I love that you are writing ("Dry Ground" posts).

Anonymous said...

Amen. He does make it lighter, doesn't He? Even when we feel like everything is just too hard. Too slow. Or too painful.

He is there.

This post was a good reminder of that, Lori.

As I start another day of yet another week unemployed, HE makes it lighter by holding my hand through the day.

He provides.

Billy Coffey said...

Wow, Lori. That was an amazing story.

Anonymous said...

Awesome truth painted perfectly on the canvas of my mind and heart. I love that I will remember the message because the picture painted is worth a 1000 words!
Keep watching, keep listening, KEEP WRITING!
Karen B