Excerpt from
The Jensen Family

Probably he got caught in a steel trap like this one over here," their dad said, pointing to an exhibit in the next case.
"But how could he get free from that?" Julie asked.

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– posted 12.04.2009


A Character story about self-control.

"Hey, what smells so good?" Toby asked as he entered the kitchen.
"Fudge," his mother answered, "but it's not for us. I'm taking it to the Christmas concert tomorrow night."
"Ah, come on. You can give me just one little piece," he begged, licking his lips.
"Nothing doing. For one thing, I don't want to cut it until tomorrow. And for another, you don't need it, young man. You know your weight problem. And I've noticed your having an increasing problem with acne and fudge would be the worst thing for you."
"That's not acne, Mom," his sister announced as she swaggered into the kitchen, "that's just plain zits."
"Why don't you go play in the traffic," Toby snarled. "You think-"
"All right you two," their mother interrupted. "That'll be all before you get going again. This is the Christmas season you know. Wouldn't it be grand if you would both work at getting along during the holiday? I might even enjoy having you home for these two weeks."
"I'm easy to get along with," Debbie assured her, swinging her ponytail back with her hand. "It's Toby that can't say anything without-"
"See, Mom? I told you. She can see everyone's problems except her own."
"Oh, so you admit you have a problem?"
"Debbie, will you please go into the living room. I was talking with Toby before you barged in." When Debbie had left, Toby's Mom continued. "Toby, I just want to share with you a concern I have. You know how much you like junk food, and Christmas is a time when there's plenty of that around. I hope that you will try to show some self-control."
"Yeah, I know I eat too much once in a while, but a little won't hurt, will it?"
On Sunday Toby moseyed into his Sunday school class a few minutes late.
"Welcome, Toby," his teacher greeted. "I was afraid you weren't coming today."
"Well, it wasn't my fault. My sister made us late, as usual. I don't know why I was cursed with a sister like her."
"We were beginning to discuss some of the things that people didn't get that they wanted on that first Christmas night. I suggested that they wanted a judge to get rid of Rome, but God gave them a Saviour to get rid of sin. Can anyone name any others?"
"Uh, they wanted a king, but God gave a baby."
"And they probably wanted him born in a palace instead of in a barn."
After some discussion, the teacher said, "These are great ideas. Now let's each share one or two things we'd really like for Christmas this year." As the boys yelled out their wishes, the teacher wrote them on the board. Toby thought, Those guys don't want much! Man, all I want is a five pound box of chocolates, and maybe a few bags of chips. Finally the teacher said, "Did you notice that each part of the first Christmas was not what the people would have chosen, but it was God's choice, and it was the best? Some of you won't get what you had me list here as your wishes this Christmas. If you don't, it will probably also be the very best thing for you. I'll tell you why. Blare, will you read Psalm 106 verse15 for us?" Blare read, "And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." "This verse says that sometimes God gives people what they insist on getting, but with it they lose the blessing of God." Just then the buzzer sounded. "Our time is up," the teacher concluded, "see you next week, and Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you," the boys returned.
On the way out Blare caught Toby. "Hey, man, you want to come to my house tomorrow night? Some of the guys are getting together about seven to watch some videos and mess around."
"That sounds great," Toby responded enthusiastically. "I'm sure it will be all right with my folks. Want me to bring anything?"
"Everyone's bringing a bag of chips or popcorn or candy and we're furnishing the ice cream and pop."
"Cool, man. See you tomorrow night."
Before Toby left the next night, both his mother and father said, "Please, Son, show some self-control with the food. You don't have to eat more than anyone else."
"And you sure don't need any more zits," his sister sneered.
"I wish you'd do us a favor and drop dead. See ya later. Don't wait up."
The time seemed to zip by that night. The boys watched videos, played games, laughed and told jokes. There seemed to be no end to the pop and chips and Blare's mother told them, any time they wanted more ice cream or candy, just help themselves. Toby didn't need to be asked a second time. He quickly forgot about any promises he made to his parents.
Finally, shortly before midnight, he shuffled into his house and up to his room. He tried to sit on the bed but bending hurt too much. He felt like throwing up, but he couldn't do that either. He just stretched out on the bed, groaning in pain as his stomach seemed to tie in knots. Suddenly as he lay there, for some reason the verse from Sunday school came to mind. "And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." He remembered his one request for Christmas. When he thought of five pounds of chocolates, Toby felt even sicker. I guess I got just what I wanted, but I sure feel miserable about it.
When Toby confessed this the next day, his dad squeezed his shoulder. "You've learned a valuable lesson, Son, and your face will probably remind you of it all week. Sometimes it's a curse to get our prayers answered. Sometimes we so insist on getting our own way that God gives it to us. But without His blessing and favor, it's sour. I'm sure you wouldn't want all your recent prayers answers."
"Like what?" Toby asked.
"Like asking your sister to drop dead for example."
"But I didn't mean-"
"You didn't mean it, but you did say it, and you would feel terrible if you got your wish. Toby, the first Christmas is all about God giving us just what we needed, a Saviour, not what we wanted, a judge. This Christmas, let's thank God for what we don't get as well!"