Saturday was more like a mid-summer day here in Idaho. The stifling air wilted me as I mowed my lawn in the heat. So much for the idea of getting up early to work in the coolness of the morning. The grass wasn’t going to cut itself, so I pressed into the machine, trudging behind like a slave to suburbia.
My two older boys played happily on the slip-n-slide I had pulled from the garage earlier. We don’t always get to pull out the water toys this early in the season, but no sense in waiting if the weather cooperates. Besides, it kept the kids from begging for some Xbox time, so when there was enough grass mowed I had put it out so the boys could be boys.
Finally the heat had worn down my resistance. I found the siren call in the freezer-ice cream. A couple of scoops should help me conquer my task. I whipped out the scooper and soon had a foaming Coke float for me, while the boys would enjoy a bowl with chocolate syrup drizzled over their treat.
I walked carefully down the stairs, not wanting an ice cream bath. The boys squealed with delight at their bounty, and sat in the grass content with the cool confection sliding down their throat. I sat in the shade, taking my time before braving the elements once again.
As I tossed back the yummy mixture of melted ice cream and Coke, my middle son walked up to me with his empty bowl outstretched. His blue eyes sparkled. A wide grin extended across his small face. Silently he handed off the dish and started back toward his playground. One more glance back to his dad, the fresh smile still plastered in place, before he turned his attention to noise and splashes.
There was something that passed in that simple exchange of a smile between a son and a father that day. No words were spoken, but the love he had for me was evident in the fixed gaze he held with me. The gift was acknowledged and more than compensated in that quiet moment. I don’t know what his eyes saw in return, but I hope the love and pride I have in him as my precious son was shared with him in a similar manner.
Sometimes our relationship with our Father God is just as simple. Whether appreciating the smooth taste of vanilla, sugar, and cream, standing on a rocky outcropping watching the view unfold below us, smelling the freshness of impending rain in a summer thunderstorm, or the kindness of a helping hand at an opportune time, we have an encounter with the divine in such moments.
He didn’t create automons to obey His every command. He made us with significance and honor, the price being the very real likelihood that we would walk away from Him in our pride and doubt. Still, we had the free will to choose life or death, and continue to do so every day. Why He was willing to do such a thing will always be a mystery to me. Maybe when I get to heaven I can ask Him if it was worth it all. But I think I had a glimpse of the answer just this weekend.
It was in ice cream with chocolate syrup and the smile of a young boy.