My son and I roasted hotdogs and S’mores at a campfire last weekend. Yes, sir-ree, we were invited to a real, bona-fide, genuine campfire, way out in the country on a dark, starlit night. And just a few yards from the campfire was an old cemetery, where Wyatt Earp’s kinfolk are buried. After dinner, we grabbed a couple of flashlights and visited the cemetery. No boogey-men jumped out to get me. I guess my loud, shaky version of “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” scared them off.
Yeah, that’s it.
When the cemetery turned up nothing more interesting than some centuries-old gravestones, we returned to the campfire, told ghost stories, and roasted more marshmallows. Now, you’ve got to understand that my son is twelve years old, and he eats more than several head of cattle. I’m not kidding—there’s no end to his appetite. And he’s not choosy about what he eats, either, which has caused many a tummy ache on many a sleepless night.
We were having a good time, and I didn’t want to be a party pooper. But when he approached his four hundredth marshmallow, I had to play the mom card and just say no.
“Just this one more?” He held up a fluffy, puffy marshmallow next to his puppy-dog face.
“Pleeeeeeeeeeeeese? Last one. I promise.”
“No.” Just call me Iron Woman.
“I’ve already touched it. What do you want me to do with it?”
I didn’t even flinch. “Throw it in the fire.”
Now, if you’ve never watched a marshmallow get swallowed up by a fire, you’ve missed true entertainment. That marshmallow landed on the hot coals and began to grow. It grew and grew until it looked like something Sigourney Weaver might have blown to bits in “Aliens”. And then it grew some more. Bubble. Ooze. Explode. Bubble. Ooze. Explode again. I felt myself growing nauseous. It increased in size about a thousand percent before it finally morphed into a black, charred mess.
The funny thing is, that marshmallow looked so sweet, so alluring at first. It was all white and fluffy and soft, and it called to me. It called to my son. But I knew underneath the sugary temptation was a big pile of nothing. Zero nutritional value.
As I watched that thing increase until it nearly took over the coals, I wondered what it must do in our stomachs. And then I decided some things are best left alone. Some things, I’m better off not knowing.
That marshmallow represents so many things in my life. It looks sweet. It’s tempting. And despite the fact that it has no substance, it lures me in and takes over.
Yep. Things like Facebook. Television. Fluffy romance novels.
Things like worry. Anxiety. Doubt.
These things don’t add to the quality of our lives. They don’t make us better or stronger or healthier. They just grow and grow and take up space and cause us to be bubbly, seeping messes. When we give them power in our lives, we eventually disintegrate into a charred pile of ashes.
God knows this. That’s why He plays the “God-card” sometimes, and says no to the things we want. He wants to protect us. Other times, He lets us make the choice, but He always tries to encourage us in the right direction. When we listen to Him, we’ll avoid the tummy aches, the sleepless nights, the alien takeovers. And when you take those away, all that’s left is a lovely campfire on a starlit night.
“The Lord will keep you safe from all evil; He will take care of your soul,” Psalm 121:7.