Through tears Mac expressed his 5 yr-old despair. It was all his daddy could do to stay in the moment and NOT rescue him.
For some weeks now, one of Mac's favorite things has been an Incredibles Ice Pack. It was intended, like any cartoon Band Aid, for injuries, to make them seem less traumatic but Mac just froze it and carried it around until it thawed. A few nights ago Mr. Incredible suffered loss. There was a slight tear in the ice pack and a leak of the bottom-of-the-nuclear-reactor fluorescent goo inside. There was no fixing it. The instructions actually said, if broken, to throw it away immediately. We complied and promised Mac that we would help him buy another one if we could find it.
A few days later we were in Target hunting for the Incredibles Ice Pack armed with Mac's handful of change. To Mac's disappointment, we came up empty-handed. On the way home we decided to search for our quarry at the dollar store. The ice pack remained elusive, but Mac did find something that caught his eye; a rubber fly also filled, curiously, with bottom-of-the-nuclear reactor goo. Mac was satisfied with his purchase and all seemed right in the world.
Not ten minutes later Mac was crying out with disappointment as his firm little grip had squeezed the guts out of his brand new toy. It was heartbreaking. He was sad and covered in toxic, sticky chemicals. Immediately, his brother and older sister offered their dollar toys to assuage his disappointment. I felt the same compulsion, but something in me restrained the urge. The moment seemed to be God's (aren't they all?). I blessed Ryene and Hudson but told them to hold off.
"Your hearts are amazing but I don't think that is the best thing for you do right now."
Mac was more than a little surprised by my restraint and my explanation.
"Mac, I think maybe God is trying to teach you something. The bible tells us that hope deferred makes the heart grow sick. If we put our hope in things, eventually they break and it can make us heartsick. Jesus is the greatest and he will never break and never change. That's why the bible says that the one who hopes in him will never be disappointed."
Mac wasn't quite buying it. He was still consumed with disappointment in the disemboweled rubber fly (which will forever be a metaphor for my "lesser" hopes). After arriving at home and burning his clothes in a hermetically sealed incinerator (o.k. I'm exaggerating...it wasn't sealed that well), we sat down for lunch. Mac was still weeping. In an attempt to orient him in some gratitude, I asked him to thank God for our lunch. This is what he prayed...
"God, (sniff, sniff) please help me to not put my hope in toys (sob)... help me to hope in you."
It may have been the most ardent plea for God to grant repentance that I have ever heard. It simultaneously broke my heart and sent it soaring. Mac may not remember it but, the next time I'm sobbing and holding a gutless rubber fly, I will.