Cotton candy and lasting pleasure - JJ Landis
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Cotton candy and lasting pleasure

As I browsed through some of my old files (while creatively avoiding looming schoolwork), I came upon my old life at Transport For Christ (TFC). A ministry for truck drivers, TFC publishes a monthly free magazine called Highway News and Good News. Enter JJ – the editor of said magazine for eight years. I wrote so many essays and articles when I worked there – many editorials were about my children. This one struck my fancy (yes, I just said “struck my fancy”) this morning. Since I have given up, for the time being, writing anything at all that is not related to library programming, I will share this seven-year-old morsel with you today. Be encouraged to stay the course.
My three-year-old daughter recently received a pocketbook from her grandmother. Because she wanted to carry it today on our routine trip to the grocery store, I decided to give Esther some of my loose change to carry with her. Then I gave her the classic speech, “If you are a good girl, you can buy something.”

Before we were even in the store, she decided her big purchase would be cotton candy. Yes, they do sell cotton candy at the supermarket. Not freshly spun cotton on a stick like you eat at carnivals, but a hard, sticky mass in an opaque bag. Nonetheless, Esther has had her eye on this cotton candy for months now.

At the entrance to the store, we passed a play area for children with some arcade games and a few fifty-cent rides — a horse, a fire engine, a boat. Esther immediately asked (as she does EVERY time we enter the store) if she could go on a ride. Normally, my answer is no, but today since it was theoretically her money to spend, I let her know she could choose either to buy something or take a ride (if, of course, she behaved herself).

Indeed, she was well-behaved during my shopping trip, if not annoying as she asked every minute about the cotton candy. Before we queued up at the checkout, I asked Esther if she wanted to buy the candy or ride the fire engine. To my surprise, she abandoned her cotton-candy dreams and chose the ride.

Fine by me. Either way, I was out less than a buck. She rode the fire engine. A song played as the truck rocked back and forth. She happily spun the steering wheel around and even was kind enough to let her one-year-old brother sit next to her on the seat. The excitement lasted two minutes at best and soon the ride ended. I saw heartbreak in her eyes when the rocking and the music stopped.

Because she looked near tears as she climbed down, I stooped next to her and asked if she had fun. Yes, she did. I asked her if she would rather have had the ride that is now over or a bag of candy that she could make last all day. She wished she would have chosen the candy.

I don’t know how much of that lesson her young mind could comprehend. I wonder what she’ll pick next time. In life we often choose the cheap thrill over the lasting pleasure. How many times do we throw our money away on futile and short-lived ventures? How often do we choose cheap entertainment over something satisfying and long-lasting?

In this day of instant everything, we desire to be gratified completely and quickly. Why take the time to pray to God when He doesn’t immediately and clearly respond? Why read the Bible when we could watch TV or read magazines? Sometimes the best choice is the slower choice. Sometimes the fulfilling thing to do takes more time and seems less enjoyable.

When we do jump into the fast, easy way, we come away empty. We are disappointed like my daughter was with her ride. She had fun, but the fun ended too soon, and the pleasure didn’t sustain her and could not be regained.

What choices are you making? The things of the Lord are eternal. You will be satisfied for an eternity if you choose the way of God. Choose to follow Jesus Christ and He will bring you satisfaction and pleasure that will be longer lasting than a quick ride.
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