Here it is, 5:15 a.m., and I'm awakened by the hot breath of my son looming over my head and loudly whispering to my left ear, "Daddy...I need some orange juice...right now!" I attempt to tell him, "Son, it's still night night time. Either lay down in Daddy's bed or go back to your own bed." And then the Oscars begin. The manufactured tears start rolling off the warehouse floor. And I know that I will be getting my sorry sack out of the comfort of my bed to retrieve the orange juice.
5:24 a.m., I lay back down in bed. Maybe I can salvage another 45 minutes of shuteye. Then I begin hearing the noise. The dreaded "juice cup noise from hell" that any parent knows that sounds like some sort of unstoppable suction force coming from where your child's mouth is sucking the life out of this 10 oz. container. I will not be going back to sleep.
As for me, I love Diet Cherry Pepsi. There are some days I may even drink 3 or 4. Crazy, I know! I used to be concerned that my friend Jarrod was going to wind up an old man in a nursing home with a Diet Coke I.V. in his arm (not that it still couldn't happen!). But this is nothing compared to my little man's determination that orange juice is not just the only thing that will satisfy his thirst, but that it is somehow helping keep him alive. When he goes to sleep each night - of course requesting more orange juice - he is only allowed water. He takes it (with silent protest) and I am convinced that he goes to sleep thinking, "I will awaken myself before the dawn...and I will banish this cursed water from my cup...only to have my parental slaves fetch me the only drink worthy of filling my golden goblet. ORANGE JUICE!" Yes, I am absolutely certain that is what he is thinking.
OK, so where's the big "spiritual lesson"? I know, you're going to tell us, "I want to thirst for Jesus the way Nathan longs for orange juice". Right? Well, while that would be a valid thing to long for, that's not really what's eating me at 5:50 in the morning. What hits me in the face is that we all have these things that we so desperately desire - things that we're convinced we NEED - that, quite frankly, we don't really need at all. We WANT. And every time we actually get what we WANT we become more convinced that we NEED it. This brings us to a place where we'll stop at nothing to get it and, even worse, we start to think we're entitled to it. Orange Juice or death!
What's possibly even worse about winding up in this wasteland is that we are blinded to what we're doing to those around us in our quest to satisfy our longing. My son has no idea what 5:15 a.m. means to me! And being honest, he doesn't really care! He just knows that he desperately needs orange juice, and if he doesn't get it not only will his entire existence be threatened, but the entire world could be in danger of coming to an abrupt halt.
If there was a pediatric rehab for juice addiction I would heavily consider sending my almost 4 year old crazy man for a visit. But it would certainly be a waste of time. Not only would he fall "off the wagon" as soon as he got out, he would hijack and seize control of the wagon and drive it straight to the grocery store for some orange juice. And lucky for him the stores are open before 6 a.m.!