Jelly Bellies and Theology
“Jelly beans please.” My son, Bryce is two years old, and we are in the middle of trying to potty train him. As a reward for being successful he gets jelly beans- 1 for going with help and 2 if he goes by himself. When he is finished he excitedly, without fail, makes this request. The other day, while choosing his jelly beans, I almost asked him what flavor he would like. I looked at the many different options of tastes; cinnamon, pear, buttered popcorn, root beer, lime, and many more, and resisted giving him the option of which flavor he preferred. Instead, I reached in and gave him whatever happened to touch my fingers first. After handing it to him I paused to see how he would react to not getting one of the “premium” flavors I know I would have demanded. His reaction? Total enjoyment and thankfulness of the jelly bellies. I love my boy!!!
This interaction and Bryce’s reaction surprised me, though, because if it was me, I would definitely want jelly bellies my way, with the flavors I like. I can think of plenty of times I was not satisfied with a gift, a dinner entrée, or other things I have received because it wasn’t just the way I wanted it. My attitude reveals something within me that I’m not thrilled about- a critical, evaluative attitude of what I’ve been given (I’m working on this and have come a long way- my wife will confirm-hopefully). An outlook like this is something I see, not just in myself, but also in the lives of so many believers. It’s an attitude that misses God’s lavish gifts ALL around us because we want blessings and goodness in a certain, specific way.
1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” This is the greatest blessing ever know-EVER KNOWN. To be called children of God, to not have to pay the penalty of our sins, to have life to the fullest, to be promised eternity in joy, to experience some of that eternity now, to realize that God made us, and loves us. These are all blessings that surpass understanding, and are forever. As followers of Christ we get to live with this hope and promise every day. Now savor that for a moment. But God doesn’t stop there. He surrounds us with goodness and blessings in small things that we so often forget.
When Bryce threw the jelly bellies in his mouth I was staring at him, waiting for a reaction to the “sub-par flavors” he had just consumed. There was not an ounce of disappointment, or frustration... he loved those jelly bellies. Our small interaction stirred a question in my soul-- “What would it be like if I started gladly accepting the blessings God is pouring out, instead of evaluating blessings against what I want?” Right now as I type this on a new computer my work provided, I am in a room that is a great temperature (and if it wasn’t I could make it be a great temperature), I was just walking outside where the air had a refreshing fullness to it, I have friends to laugh with, sports to play, family who love me, and a little boy who continually fails to make it to the toilet in time. These are all a part of God’s jelly belly jar, full of His gifts for us. May we be more like Bryce, and accept the goodness and the blessings of God, savor them, even when it’s not the exact flavor we want.