Monday, May 26, 2008

Chocolate milk desires

I made my usual Monday morning trip to the grocery store today. Rounding third and heading for home, I was in the dairy products aisle. There I saw a dad and his young daughter (probably 3) negotiating over chocolate milk. I had seen these two out of the corner of my eye at the meat counter as well. Dad was trying to get some steaks, daughter was tugging hard at his hand, "Let's go." Back at the dairy aisle, I heard him saying, "If you want some chocolate milk, you have to get in the cart and drink it." She replied ever so obediently, "OK Daddy, I will, I will," and began trying to scramble into the cart unassisted. The Daddy took a small bottle of chocolate milk out of the refrigerator case and handed it to her. She was all smiles.

Five minutes later, I was finishing up in the check out aisle. There was a grandma type after me, then up strolled Daddy and the little girl. Just five minutes later and she was fit to be tied. Throwing a top-notch tantrum, I heard her exclaim as her Daddy placed the half-empty bottle of milk on the counter to pay for it, "NO! I don't want chocolate milk! I don't want it!"

I looked at him and grinned. He replied in defense, "It's always like this at check out." I smiled knowingly and added, "Been there, done that, four times." He didn't seem comforted by these words, but grandma next to me chimed in, "Me too -- three times." Then I added my Mom's favorite expression, which had grandma howling: "The first 100 years are the worst."

Chocolate milk desires. Fleeting, empty passions. Wanting something one minute, feeling certain it will satisfy us, only to decide in the next minute that nothing could be further from the truth.

I see the effects of chocolate milk desires all the time -- in my own house as well as at my rehab ministry. My kids are constantly plagued by the "gimmies," and in truth, I suppose I am too. The women fighting addiction are learning how to negotiate life without the quick fix. Without the chocolate milk that sours before you reach check out.

My pastor preached on this topic yesterday, sort of. He spoke on the decisions we make every day whether we will serve God or serve mammon (stuff). I confess I listened initially with an attitude of "heard this 100 of times," but found the message interesting in his explanation of no matter what we serve, we tend to serve it in the same way. In other words, we were created to worship. The question is, what will be the object of our worship? We can either worship God or worship mammon; usually we choose one at the exclusion of the other.

In contrast to worshiping mammon, Jesus encourages us to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Then all the other "things" will be added to us. In fact, as we seek first the Kingdom, the chocolate milk quality of those other "things" tend to fade in importance and urgency. Oh sure, every so often, we'll still find ourselves looking longingly at the neighbor's new car or landscaping job or churning with envy over the in law's new beach house, but the feelings are usually fleeting. The things that once represented desires for temporary happiness, empty fulfillment, find themselves transformed into temporary longings; things that prick at us occasionally, but then fade.

It is likely we will spend our entire lives taking the chocolate milk out of the refrigerator case, casting a momentary glance its way, then deciding to put it back again. I mean really, who wants to carry a cart full of chocolate milk to check out?

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