“I want number 14.” I gave her the sweaty nickel in my hand. The 24 yellow rubber duckies floated in a large tin at the Saturday night festival. Each held a candy prize. This was my favorite stand. There was no loosing at this stand. Behind me, a lively band played yet another Polka tune on the stage and the night was warm and wonderful with smells of french fries, perogies, sizzling burgers, and hot dogs. Every ducky held a prize and my eye was on the little set of six wax soda bottles filled with colored sugar-water. She lifted ducky number 14 and handed me a pixie stick instead. I had two more nickles and two more chances to guess which ducky held the prize I wanted but I didn’t care much if I didn’t guess the right one, it was the sugar I was after. Children love candy. In fact, children have far more sugar taste buds than adults do and so they tend to like their food sweeter. Cereals for kids are loaded with sugar because the makers of these products know this. Ready made lunches like Lunchables, have tons of sugar and even come with candy and juice–both replete with sugar. The favorite dinner food for most kids is pizza, a product made of white refined dough, sugary tomato sauce, and fatty cheese. However, these extra sugar taste buds on a child’s tongue are to draw children to more fruits and vegetables and not for candy. Growing up, Saturday night was the time I could find the sugar I craved, but today children are bombarded with sugar at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The early onset of type II diabetes rates soar higher and higher so that the medical community is faced with learning how to care for these young people and in time, how to care for people with forty or more years of this disease. This is a new a problem and it is caused by one little ingredient: sugar. Since I am around children all the time as a teacher, I see the effects of sugar on them. Tired, unable to concentrate, frequent stomach aches, and extra weight take the sparkle out of kids. When I walk through the cafeteria and see what they are eating, I feel like it is an uphill battle trying to get them to eat right. Schools complain that when they offer kids a choice, they rarely choose the food that is good for them and go for the high sugar foods instead. Of course they do, they’re kids, they want sugar. Why do we even give them a choice? Children need to be taught how to eat and learn to eat whole foods, real foods, foods that give their bodies the nutrients they need. We often choose Christianity the way kids choose food. The promise of heaven, the promise to live forever, the promise that we will see our loved ones again, all draw us to a yes for Jesus. The promises of God through Jesus Christ fill us with hope but these are just “sugar coatings” of the real promise, that is, to be with God not only after death, but in this life as well. When we look at Jesus Christ we see a man who could have ruled the world but chose to serve it instead. We see a man strong and healthy who chose to touch the leper and heal the sick. We see a man who could have been the richest person in the world but chose to live a modest life without riches and dwell and teach among the common people of his day. We see a man who could calm a storm but faced the storm of hatred to save us. When we look at Jesus we admire him and wonder at his gentleness and power. This is the God we seek. He is the one, the glorious and excellent man who was God. He is with us now, He is here and He is near. The afterlife and heaven may look good to us when we first consider committing to Christianity, but God is the real food, the one who will nurture our souls and give sparkle to our lives. If the fear of hell or the promise of heaven has drawn you into Christianity, take time to look at Jesus, at what he did, and how he lived because he is the best view of God that we have.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11