Where's My Chocolate Ice Cream?

I received an email from a reader the other day who had just read Stuck in the Middle. She asked a question that rolled around in my mind for close to a week before I answered it. This one required a lot more thought and prayer than the typical reader question. She asked, "How do I get my chocolate ice cream?"

If you haven't read Stuck in the Middle, you won't understand the significance of that question. The scene she's referring to is possibly the one that I've received the most comments on from any of my books so far. Throughout the story, Joan Sanderson wonders why God seems so distant in her life while He is obviously an active participant in the lives of others. Her longing for a close, ever-present Father is activated, in part, by a missionary's story about chocolate ice cream. From that moment, Joan asks herself the same question my reader asked me - how do I get my chocolate ice cream? (Read the book. It's a good scene!)

I believe God wants a close, personal relationship with every one of us. He is not a distant Deity, watching from far away. He's a loving Father who wants constant fellowship with His child. Sometimes He performs dramatic acts to reach us. I love it when He does! Hearing about those actions always makes my faith stronger. But in my personal experience, most of the time the ways He lets me know He loves me are much more subtle. I can miss His actions if I'm not paying attention.

The Bible tells us "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) I don't have any problem with the first part - I believe that He exists. It's the last part I stumble over. Do I believe that he rewards me when I earnestly seek Him? Theoretically, yes. In practice... sometimes I have a hard time seeing his rewards. They're not always as dramatically visible as having chocolate ice cream delivered to your front porch.

But that's the point of the ice cream story in Stuck in the Middle. Sometimes God uses helicopters. Sometimes His delivery method is more ordinary. He uses people.

When my husband broke his collarbone a couple of years ago, friends came to our assistance. They visited, brought gifts, called to see what we needed, prayed for us. Metaphorically, they brought chocolate ice cream. Back when I was a single mom, a kind friend filled my pantry with groceries when I was struggling to buy food. That was chocolate ice cream in the form of macaroni and cheese. Recently, when my father passed away, dozens of people sent cards and flowers to me - just to me, not to the funeral - to let me know they were praying for me, and to brighten my day. Again, chocolate ice cream, delivered to my door.

God's rewards haven't just come to me in the form of other people. When I stop to consider the many ways I see His hand in my life, I could fill volumes. One that stands out every day is His hand in my work. Here's a confession - even though I've published 13 books (so far), I don't have an original thought in my head. Every time I get a new book contract, part of me quakes inside, and I think, "This is the one where they're all going to figure out that I'm a fraud. I can't write worth a darn." But every single day, I sit down and pound on my keyboard, and God somehow takes the words I write and tells stories that touch people's hearts. That is absolutely as dramatic and amazing to me as chocolate ice cream delivered via helicopter to my front yard.

I look back over all the times when God has encouraged me, supported me, come to my aid, and I'm blown away at his ever-present, close, active presence in my life. My job is to trust him, to earnestly seek a relationship with Him. When I do that, He promises to reward me - with chocolate ice cream delivered right to my door.