and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7 WEB)
Atlanta, Georgia is a great place to grow up. Along side many other auspicious historical events I figure Atlanta is best known as the home of Coca Cola Corporation. Everything else in the city’s history pales by comparison. At least that was how I was raised. My family held a great devotion to this sparkling, thirst quenching, concoction.
My brothers and I were born, bred and taught early the marvelous wonders of an ice cold Coke. I figure we were teenagers before we heard of any other, what we called, soft drink. Pepsi was considered a dirty word in our home and just the mention of it would get our mouth washed out with soap. We had very clean mouths in Georgia.
We learned early the important and varied uses for a Coca-Cola. If you fill your mouth and then shake your head back and forth it will fizzle wildly. The growing internal pressure will eventually be released through your nose with a wild shout of excitement, and a disgusting dribble down your face. Pour a small amount, you don’t want to waste it, on the porch, and it’ll attract a passel of bugs to examine and collect. Even the critters from our yard had sense enough to know a good thing when it appeared.
One day, when it was hot and my brothers and I were sweaty, Dad introduced us to the miracle of a float. For the uninitiated, a float combines the sweet delight of a coke with the cool refreshment of vanilla ice cream. Some, non purists, might venture to use other flavors of ice cream, or even consider using a different soft drink, perish the thought! Mixing the appropriate two, Coca-cola and vanilla ice cream, in a glass produces a marvelous drink. There is a long standing debate. Which comes first, the ice cream or the coke. I’m sure this serious issue will continue to be debated through the ages. I’m sure, when we get to heaven. God will tell us the Coca-cola goes in first and settle the question once and for all.
As my own children grew I feared that I might fail them as a father. I never instructed them in the proper technique for making a cool float on a hot summer afternoon. This became overwhelmingly evident when our youngest, Evan, was about five years old.
We were on furlough visiting some folks in San Antonio, Texas. The summer was hot, our schedule was full, and the children spent their afternoons with the family where we were staying. Visits to the bowling alley, another new experience, and the local pool, kept the children busy while my wife, Beth, and I shared our ministry with the Missions Committee and at difference meetings around town. As the story goes, relayed to us by our children, our hostess offered Evan a Black Cow.
Evan wasn’t sure what a Black Cow was, outside of the four footed bovine, but jumped at the offer when he learned it included ice cream and root beer. Let me make this clear; I don’t condone root beer for making a float. The use of this foreign substance is totally contrary to my pledge of allegiance to the state of Georgia and the Coca Cola Corporation. However, these folks were Texans, and Texans have some peculiar ideas about things.
This fine lady carefully filled a glass with root beer while Evan watched with his brown eyes wide in anticipation. The ice cream was retrieved from the freezer and opened. The excitement rose as Evan watched her find her ice cream scoop and dig into the cool, delicious looking, white ice cream. At least they had the decency to use vanilla ice cream in Texas. A large portion was scooped from the container and then whoosh, dropped into the glass of root beer? The white lump floated at the top as a brown foam rose from the quickly cooled root beer.
Evan was aghast with a mixture of disappointment and disgust. How could someone destroy good ice cream by putting it into a glass of root beer? He started crying. As a matter of fact he was still crying when we returned home a few hours later. It took a while to reduce his noise to a simple whimper. At bed time he drifted off into a fitful, ice cream concerned sleep.
Years later Evan commented on the horror he experienced when a good scoop of ice cream was destroyed by drowning it in a glass of root beer. He was sixteen then and the scar remained. Some things in life are just too horrific to forget.
Since that raucous day I’ve tried to teach him other unique things before he’s caught unaware. Chocolate syrup on toast for breakfast, Boy Scout sandwiches (a combination where the bacon is cooked inside the egg), and oatmeal on toast have become part of his dietary experience. It’s very important for us to teach our children the good things of life, things they can pass on to the next generation with pride.
God told the Israelites to teach their children His statutes. God didn’t want anyone confused or traumatized by the unexpected. Without proper preparation I’m sure little Jakob would have been aghast at the Passover meal. “What do you mean no leaven in the bread? I wanted a fluffy cinnamon roll with dinner!”
I try to teach my children God’s statutes as they grow. They can learn to live with a food oversight. A spiritual oversight is more devastating. As believers, what piece of God’s wisdom have we failed to pass on to our children? When God drops a beautiful scoop of divine calling into a glass of routine life we want our children to shout with joy, not recoil in disgust.