During our drive home from Fort Collins, Colo., earlier this month, I made a deal with my youngest child, Nicole.
After watching me guzzle diet sodas at every gas station across five states and then frantically racing to the next rest area, I heard a voice from the back seat. From the proverbial mouths of babes, Nicole said, “Dad, you shouldn’t drink so much diet soda.”
“Yes, honey, I know,” came my patronizing response.
“If you’ll stop drinking sodas,” she promised in what I can only call the real Pepsi challenge, “I’ll stop drinking energy drinks.”
I was so taken back with her willingness to give up this horribly unhealthy drink, that I grabbed her hand to shake on the deal.
“Deal!” we sang in unison, and I turned to my wife searching for an approving expression.
If you know my wife, you’ll find this next part hard to believe, but Mrs. Chaplain gave me the stink eye.
“How long do you think you can keep that promise? You shouldn’t set her up for disappointment.”
Actually, she had grounds to give me the stink eye. She usually does.
Everyone who knows me knows that Diet Pepsi is part of my food pyramid. Actually, for me, it’s more like my food trapezoid. I call it that because I’m trapped in a funny shaped cycle of eating that includes a diet soda with almost every meal.
There seem to be no loopholes in this bargain, because I don’t do coffee.
Yup, it’s true. I’m a minister and a military officer who doesn’t drink coffee. Normally, the military requires officers to play golf and drink coffee, but I have a special waiver of these requirements from the Secretary of the Air Force. Additionally, my Baptist ordination limits my duties to those of a “noncoffee-drinking” minister.
My daughter did what social workers call an intervention. Some people might call her intervention judgmental, but there can be a fine line between judging and intervention.
Judging seeks to place oneself higher than the one being judged. Intervention requires care and love on the part of the intervener.
Sacred texts record a famous case of intervention involving King David. On normal days, Dave was a caring ruler, but on one particular day he slipped and impregnated an officer’s wife named Bathsheba. Anxious to have the woman for himself and fearful he’d be discovered, he had the officer killed by placing him in the leading edge of a battle. In a dubious display of shivery, Dave took Bath as his wife.
The thing is, someone did know, a preacher guy named Nathan.
Nate came to David spinning a story about a rich greedy rancher who stole the pet lamb of a poor farmer and had it slaughtered to feed his fat party guests.
Dave was incensed by the story. He told Nat that the fat rancher deserved death.
In one of the most famous comebacks in the Bible, Nate declares to Dave, “Thou art the man!”
Or, loosely paraphrased: “You’re the rich rat who stole the officer’s only thing of value! You had plenty!”
David repented. And today, his repentance has caused him to be remembered as a righteous king and author of much of the Psalms.
I’m not sure I’ll be that lucky.
After our return home, my daughter asked me, “Why are you so grumpy today?”
“Oh, I dunno, maybe it’s because I’ve had no caffeine!” I said pinching the bridge of my nose.
“Dad,” she reminded me, “I only said no soda. I didn’t say you couldn’t have caffeine.”
Now she tells me.
I think I’ll take an Excedrin. I understand they’re loaded with the stuff.