Since I've been a preacher, my eyes have been opened wider to the profound lessons that show up in the everydayness of life. Some might call them kairos moments. When ordinary time stops and something extraordinary happens. This monring I has a kairos moment while eating Cheerios©.
OK, so really it happened before I even poured my cholesterol reducing breakfast into a bowl to enjoy. (See the post on balance.) I opened the box and looked so my hands could get a grasp on the inner plastic bag. When I looked down, I noticed something that struck me as odd. It was a plastic wrapped white and green piece of moulded plastic with a piece of white cardboard backing it. I was hungry and running late, so I didn't pursue the matter further in that moment.
While eating my Cheerios©, I did what most people do; I read the box. Well, on the back of the box I saw that the box contained an Ice-Age pencil topper. A ha! The mysterious piece of moulded plastic was a pencil topper. I wish I could say I was excited, but I wasn't.
I know, I know. A five year old would have been excited for this Ice-Age pencil topper. Perhaps. But since I am a five year old at heart, or at least when it comes to toys found inside of cereal and Cracker Jack© boxes, I began to reflect on my disappointment. It wasn't my age, but it was the lack of surprise, anticipation, and mystery. I mean, the pencil topper was just handed to me. Almost twelve hours later, I still haven't opened the thing!
Back in the day, the toys were never just handed to you. You had to do one of two things to get a toy from the cereal box. Getting the toy either involved eating the ENTIRE box of cereal (my mother's preferred method for us) or digging you hand way down deep and getting kid cooties on every morsel of cereal until you finally had the prize in hand (you guessed it, my method of choice). Never, never was it just given to you. Of course, I always wanted the toy, but there was something exciting about waiting for it, earning it, digging for it, and then finding out which of the four I was going to get.
And so, as I drove to work this morning (did I mention yet that I am in Tennessee!!!), I further reflected on this situation. Perhaps I've been in Seminary too long, but I cannot help but think theologically about the prize in the Cheerios© box. I cannot help but know that God has something great in store for me, for us, but that it isn't going to be handed to us. In fact, when it is, we tend not to appreciate it. I also cannot help but think about my mother's preferred method of getting the toy. What a lesson. Wait for it! Enjoy the journey! Do what you need to do (in this case eat the cereal) to earn it! Anticipate it! And when you have gotten your nourishment, sit back and play with it...whether it is your dream job, your dream partner, overflowing joy, abundant peace, unfailing love, or an Ice-Age pencil topper!
So even as I do this shalom work in Tennessee, I know that I must get the nourishment I can from this experience. I cannot dig in and expect to see results, but I must wait because, "But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” In other words, they that wait on the Lord will get the toy at the bottom of the Cheerios© box.