“Choklt.” Neatly written and legible, it appeared on our shopping list; I don’t know if you can read it (we were helped by the conversation preceding the writing). Ben, aged 5, was with us for the afternoon. “Can I have a cheese string, Granddad?” he asked. “I’m afraid not; you’ve eaten them all. I tell you what, I’ll write it on the shopping list, and it’ll be bought next time Grandma and I go shopping.” As I wrote it on the list, Ben observed, “I like chocolate as well.” “Hmm,” I responded, “but it’s not on the shopping list.” As I left the kitchen, Ben looked thoughtful, took the pen, concentrated, sounding out the word and wrote ‘Choklt’ in a very neat handwriting. I am reliably informed by a resident retired teacher that this was ‘very good for his age’ – try sounding it out – ‘Chok-l-t’ – it’s all there, especially if you don’t pronounce the middle ‘o’.
How could you resist? When we were shopping, I made sure we bought some chocolate, and when Ben was round – with his cousins Euan & Zach – I offered him a ‘Twirl’ finger which he ate with relish, especially when I added “You put it on the shopping list, so I bought it.” He called Euan & Zach and added excitedly “I wrote it on Granddad’s shopping list and he got it.” Next day, I picked up the shopping list and found written on it “Khoclt”…
I was reminded of Guy at Theological College. He described eating a bar of chocolate in front of his little nephew (around 2) who was holding out his hand. “Say ‘Chocolate’ and I’ll give you a piece.” The little boy screwed up his face as Guy ate the previously offered square of chocolate. His mother remonstrated “He’s too young to say the word.” Guy persisted with a second square. “Say ‘Chocolate’…” “Choc-choc” “No – ‘chocolate’” and after a pause, ate the second square. “I held out the third square, and he screwed up his face, and with immense concentration, managed ‘Choc-choc-choc’late’.” With great satisfaction he ate the square, and held out his hand: “Choc’late!”
I’m not Guy, but in both cases, really wanting something led to trying and succeeding an enhanced skill. It’s no different for adults. When we really want something, we put all our effort into reaching our goal. We become driven by our desire, even sometimes to the point of obsession. The football fan, the marathon runner, the ‘bake-off’ contestant, the ambitious banker, the power hungry Politian, the wealth seeking entrepreneur… all are utterly focussed on their goal. Unfortunately, the goal, laudable or not, will not last – it is as St Paul observes, a winner’s wreath, but perishable: Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (The Bible, 1 Corinthians 9.25).
We are so focussed on the perishable and fading glory, we miss the really important things in life – and death. We can take nothing with us at the end of our life – as Job observed some 4,000 years ago “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1.21) If we put even a fraction of our energy into pursuing matters of eternal life, of seeking the righteousness of God as a precursor for spending eternity with Him, we would see a real difference in our lives and their direction. Ironically, Jesus observes that God is happy to generously give all we need in pursuit of life with him: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you… which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7.7-11)
God, says Jesus, is willing to give the seeker all that is required and so much more: Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6.31-33) – better than even Choclt!
Praying that you may seek earnestly and successfully find in Christ Jesus all that you need and desire.
Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,
You can find the full text of the May Herald here