We are THOSE PARENTS, the ones who have taken our small children to Hawaii. Twice. Once when T was only two months old, and again when T was 3 and E was only one. We schlepped all the gear, we had crying kids on the plane, we paid exorbitant prices for meals and hotels ... All for a vacation that they would little appreciate and probably not remember.
Why? Why not just take them up to Lake Elmo for an afternoon on the beach or wait until they are old enough to appreciate it? ...all arguments that I was perfectly comfortable making until I took my kids to Hawaii.
I love my kids so much, but I'm perfectly comfortable arguing that taking them to Hawaii was ultimately for my pleasure and not so much about theirs. Not in a completely selfish way, but who comes away with the lifelong memories of little kids splashing in the waves for the first time or learning how to build sand castles and bury daddy in the sand. I would argue that my joy in visits to Hawaii have been enhanced by having taken my kids. I get great joy - and I go to great lengths - to see them laugh, to delight in things both small and great. They show a little bit of gratitude and a whole lot of joy and I would do it all over in a heartbeat.
I was thinking about this last night in light of a Sunday School class on the doctrine of God and a sermon series on Genesis. God, who is eternally self-existent and needs nothing or nobody outside of himself to exist or to be happy, neither needed to create Hawaii nor the people to go there. He doesn't need to give those people in Hawaii amazing beach sunsets every night, but he does. And I think that my joy in taking my own kids to Hawaii bears some faint resemblance to why God went to all the energy and expense of creating the world and then redeeming it. A little bit of gratitude (even if it's all I've got, it's hardly enough) and a whole lot of joy, and that's how my Father expects me to live in his world today.
What is the primary purpose of man? To glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Like a kid whose parents have taken him on a beach vacation.
PS - my header on this blog is me and E in of those amazing Hawaiian sunsets. For what it's worth.