PB&J or Panera?

“Tomorrow is lunch bunch,” I said to the four year-old as I was tucking her into bed. “I’m going to pick you up and we are going to have a special lunch at Panera. You can get your favorite: mac and cheese, and we will have a special lunch bunch lunch date.”

This past week at A’s school, it was the Week of the Young Child. I imagine the same is true for most parents of small children, but every week feels like the week of the young child in my world. Anyway, it was a week-long celebration that had a different element each day. The day that A was looking most forward to was the day she called “lunch bunch,” when the parents have lunch with the children.

As I told her the plan for our lunch bunch, I was expecting cheers of celebration from an elated little girl. Instead, tears filled her eyes as her bottom lip quivered. “Mom, I don’t want to have mac and cheese at Panera. I want to pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and eat it at school with you,” she said.

I had something bigger and better for her in mind, and I was a little stunned that all she wanted was for me to bring a simple PB&J to school. I wanted to give her more. I wanted her to indulge in her favorite meal. I wanted lunch bunch to look different, but she had determined how lunch bunch should go.

And so, because I love her, I obliged. “Okay,” I said. “Peanut butter and jelly it is!”

As I was packing her lunch, I just couldn’t give up the idea of making it special. I packed the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made and cut just the way she likes it. I also packed her favorite chips, some carrots for good measure, a mandarin and a juice box for a special treat.

And sure enough, when I showed up for lunch bunch with the lunch she wanted, she was over the moon. It was a beautiful day, so we sat outside and she recounted her morning. She happily chatted away for 30 minutes while she ate her lunch, and then was ready to re-join her class for the afternoon. Even though I wanted to give her more, her needs had been met and she was content.

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As I headed back to work, I saw myself in my child’s shoes. How many PB&Js have I eaten when Panera was in the plan? How many times has my loving Heavenly Father had something better planned for me when I insisted that things go the way I wanted? The likely answer: often.

As I have seen God’s provision come true in my life, the greater the desire is in me to trust Him and His plan more than doing things my way. But the beautiful thing is, just like I gave A the PB&J, God also meets us wherever we are and lovingly gives us everything He can within the choice that we make.

“Okay, you’re going to choose the PB&J this time, I’ll meet you there. I’ll add some chips, carrots, a mandarin and a special treat. I had something else in mind, but I love you. I’ve given you the ability to make choices, so if this is what you choose, I’ll meet you here with the hope that you’ll continue to trust me more and more so that I can give you all that I have for you,” He says.

And, just like I’m ready to take A to Panera for a special lunch-bunch treat when she’s ready to go, I think He’s ready to give us abundantly more than we can ask for, when we’re ready to step out in faith.

We just need to trust Him and go where He leads, which is easier said than done sometimes. So, until we’re ready, he’ll meet us where we are. But when we are ready, He’s ready too.

Here’s to giving up the PB&Js to see what else is on the menu!



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