Heaven and the Theology of ButterA Small Talk guest post by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson
Heaven and the Theology of Butter
Image: Snugg/flickr

As the writer of the fifth installment in our Small Talk blog series, I am delighted to welcome Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Natasha first wrote for this blog back in August, and I invited her to turn her attention to the theological lessons learned from the little voices in our midst. This series began with Sara Hagerty's children's questions about adoption, and continued with Katelyn Beaty's reflection upon becoming a godparent. Then Megan Hill shared thoughts on how to explain adultery to a Sunday school class and last week Helen Lee reflected upon her son's first brush with racism.

My daughter loves condiments. She squeezes massive amounts of ketchup on her fries or grits—yes, grits! She pours mountains of syrup on her pancakes. Yet, none of those indulgences compare to her love of butter. She puts butter on potatoes and bread. When I give her what I believe is a reasonable amount, she often asks for more. She makes deals with her dad for extra butter. She sneaks butter behind my back. The girl loves butter!

One day our family gathered for an afternoon meal and once again, my daughter pulled out her knife and loaded her bread with butter. “Stop! That’s enough,” I said. She smiled and licked more butter from her spoon. I continued, “Too much butter stops your heart! You’ll die an early death, and leave mommy and daddy here all sad.” No drama there! The words were meant to shock her and cause her to consider the consequences of her choice, since I am raising a curious and thoughtful little one.

In addition to being smart and quite charming, my daughter is also strong-willed and quick on her feet. She has a response for almost everything, so before I could get all of the words, “Too much butter stops your heart! You’ll die an early death…” out of my mouth, she was already preparing her comeback. She popped a morsel of her butter-filled bread in her mouth and said, “Well, why don’t we all eat more butter so we can die and go to heaven together?” For a moment, I was speechless.

The Psalmist writes, “From the lips of children and infants you [God] have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger (Ps. 8:2 NIV).” I have prayed this passage over my daughter for years. It has been my prayer that her life and words will glorify or bring praise to God. It has been my prayer that God would use her words and prayers to crush the plans of Satan and his demons, and on that day she used her words to crush my fears and anxieties. It is good to have wisdom, and it is also true that fear is not of the Lord. Fear must be cut off at the root, and her words calmed my fears.

My daughter loves the Lord, as do I. She likes to pray, read her Bible, and learn more about Jesus. Several years ago, this was the kid who cried when I did not allow her to partake in Holy Communion because she had not yet made a public profession of her faith. From her booster seat she pleaded, “But Mommy, I love Jesus. I love Jesus.” Since then, she has committed her life to Christ and been baptized. She knows where she is going and this world is not her home.

While heaven is her final and permanent dwelling, there are certainly things that my daughter loves about our present residence. For example, she never wants to be separated from her mommy and daddy— certainly not for something as trivial as butter, the likes of which is the leading cause of health problems and deaths among African Americans. For this reason, it has been my desire to help my daughter develop good eating habits and lifestyle choices. Of course she can have butter in moderation, but our conversation did not end with a health lesson.

At our family table, we were also having a theological discussion. There I mentally confessed to God, “I know that this world is not my home, and yet sometimes I’m so consumed with it.” So many hours are filled with the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, driving, paying bills, washing things, and eating that I sometimes forget what lies ahead. Like the Christians in Thessalonica, I get weary in waiting for a Christ who delays his return.

Yet my daughter teaches me to remember that the King is present with us and He has not abandoned or forgotten us. She reminds me that this earth is not our home, and we have much to look forward to in Heaven. There will be no more sickness, death, or disease and we can freely enjoy all the butter we want. She is the one God uses to search my heart, try me, and convict me of my shortsightedness and attachments to this world. She compels me time and again to not take myself too seriously and to look for Jesus.

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is the Assistant Director of the Center for the Development of Evangelical Leadership (CDEL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte). She is an author (mentoring book projected to be released by Zondervan in February, 2016), inspirational speaker, freelance writer, and human trafficking advocate. Connect with Natasha through her official website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.

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