Jeff Weddle | @Anti_Itcher
“Jeff, I got this great idea!” My dad said one unassuming evening. Oh dear, one never knew what my dad’s ideas were. Once he tried to teach our family Greek after supper. Alpha, beta, gamma dealt a blow to our evening plans, and after two valiant efforts, my father gave up. But occasionally his ideas were awesome. One never knew.
“What’s your idea?” I asked with some trepidation.
“This year, at grandma and grandpa’s house, we should make breakfast down by The Rock on Christmas morning.”
“Wouldn’t that be cold?”
“Probably, but it’ll be fun.”
“Won’t there be snow?”
“Of course, but that only adds to the excitement.”
No matter what my answer would be, I knew I’d be having breakfast down by The Rock on Christmas morning. My grandparents lived outside Rhinelander, Wisconsin on a lake. A lake with a large rock by it. A large rock that would apparently be the location of my Christmas breakfast.
Christmas morning came, and my dad’s plans, cooked up over the previous two months, were about to take form. We got up early, and to the snickers of our warm family, headed off to The Rock to make breakfast.
My dad carried a milk crate of food and supplies. I carried a saw and a thermos of hot chocolate. It was single digits cold, with plenty of snow on the ground. The Rock is a quarter-mile from the backdoor as the crow flies, but no crows were flying that morning. We walked and walked and walked. My dad occasionally glanced at his compass. “It keeps saying north is over there, but that can’t be right.” So we walked and walked and walked. Oh to be a crow.
“Hey dad,” I said after another 15 minutes of walking. “Look! Footprints! Someone else must be out here walking too.”
All my dad said was “Yup.” It was only later I realized these were our footprints. We were going in circles.
Eventually we ran into a road, which we took down to the public landing on the lake, cut across the lake to The Rock, and began preparing our breakfast. Except we couldn’t get the fire lit, the hot chocolate was frozen, and we couldn’t feel our fingers.
About ten minutes after arriving at The Rock, some other family members who just walked down the road and skipped walking in circles in the words, came to see how we were doing.
I felt bad for my dad, I still do. Our family would never let him live this one down. Eventually we got a little fire started. We choked down eggs that weren’t really cooked and bacon that may or may not have made an oinking sound. It was stupid cold. The whole thing was ridiculous. The mocking was unceasing.
Looking back on this event still brings a smile to my face, if not a feeling of sorrow for my dad’s failed plan. Plans rarely work. Stuff falls apart, people get lost, frostbitten toes need amputation, etc. But one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that pain, suffering, and disaster have a way of making things memorable.
Romans 5 tells us how to view the failings and pains of life.
“But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope”
The first Christmas Breakfast was a disaster. But it was enjoyable enough for my dad and me that we tried it again the following year. We learned from our mistakes. We gained a little patience and experience. We used the failures of the past to prepare for the future. Christmas Breakfast at The Rock became a tradition. Several years in, people were inviting themselves along. We ate well. We didn’t get lost. We never got frostbite. We were often warm, cozy and well fed, to the extent we briefly contemplated winter camping. Then we all laughed and decided breakfast was good enough.
Life isn’t always easy. Pain, struggle, trial, and wandering about not knowing where you are going or what you are doing... it's all part of it. Stay calm. Learn from it. Develop patience. Look to the future day when all pain and sorrow will be eliminated and righteousness will reign. I imagine there will be some fine breakfasts taking place there. I can’t wait.
Jeff Weddle is the husband of one wife and father of three kids. He is pastor of Rhinelander Bible Church in Rhinelander, WI. He enjoys reading, writing, guitaring, and although he does not enjoy running, he tends to do that a lot, too. You can contact him on Twitter at @anti_itcher or at his blog: AntiItchMeditation.wordpress.com