Saturday, February 13, 2010

Notes from Dad

Maybe it was the monthly meeting of the Ozarks Chapter of the American Christian Writers. Maybe it is that I'm bored and don't have anything else that I feel like doing right now. Maybe it's that there are a bunch of thoughts floating around in my head and the only way to make them go away is to finally write them down. Whatever the case, here I am finally blogging after almost two weeks of ... nothing.

So that this doesn't come out as a completely random ramble, I'll post a couple of related stories and how they have come together in own little mind.

I'll start with a conversation that I had with a friend about his young son that had "a melt-down" when at a sports practice. My friend didn't have much luck in getting the boy to open up about what was going on or what cause the unacceptable behavior, and the normal taking away of privileges wasn't working. I shared one of the things that I remember from my own experience as a father of a young boy.

I don't remember the events that brought about the conversation (or lack of conversation) between me and Aaron or just how old he was at the time. What I do remember is that he told me that I was hard to talk to because sometimes I'm so fixed on what I want to say that I don't listen to him and that I just get mad when he wants to talk. Wow! My son was afraid to talk to me because I wouldn't hear what he had to say and I would just get mad. I still think of that from time to time and it has made me slow down when listening to others. I think that I've become a better listener over the years but I still struggle with it--after all, I still have a teen-aged daughter at home.

Right after that, I had a conversation with another dad. He is recently divorced and has a much younger son that occasionally wants to talk about things that my friend still finds painful to talk about. The little guy doesn't really understand why his dad doesn't want to talk about these things but knows that it upsets his dad and he doesn't want to do that. I suggested that it might be a good time to let his son know that from now on, no subject would be off limits. That, no matter what, he could always talk to his dad about anything that he wanted to talk about. The time will come when dad is going to wish that his son will want to talk about some things that may be upsetting.

I didn't want either one of my friends to fall into that same situation of having sons that are afraid to talk to their dads.

All of this has spilled over into my relationship with God. I'm starting to think that referring to God as "our Father" may not be a good thing--at least, not for me. The problem comes when we start to confine God to the image of a father. Too often, we see God as a parent that will get mad. Too often, we think that we can avoid talking to God about things because He won't understand, He won't really listen and He'll just get mad.

I know that Jesus called him Father, but Jesus had a good reason. I know that the God that I believe in is a Being that desires to have a personal relationship with us. A father/child relationship works--for the most part. Where it fails to work for me is that I forget that God isn't my dad. He is my GOD. I am realizing that I've managed to shrink my God to a size small enough to fit into the imaginations of my small, finite mind. And He is so much more than that!

Although we may want to avoid a confrontation with this all-knowing God, it's not like He doesn't already know about that thing that's causing us to avoid Him. Although we may have to suffer the consequences of our disobedience, His mercy and grace is still there for us. Although we may think that we are a huge disappointment to Him, we are His handiwork; created for a purpose.

I don't want any of you to get the idea that I have a poor relationship with my dad. That's not true. But even the very best dad is a poor comparison to God. While referring to God as Father may bring us into a close relationship with Him, it also has a way of diminishing His Greatness and Glory. It is that Great God that I am desiring to know. It is that Great God that mankind should come before with fear and trembling. It is that Great God that I want ... to love, and to be loved by. I want to demonstrate my love for Him by following the teaching of His Son. I want to be obedient. I want to honor His greatness by fulfilling His plan and purpose in creating me.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:3-4

John <><


Anonymous said...

Given God's position above us, it is easy to understand that the best of praying is listening. It is our optimal response to the One we most respect. But we have to risk talking to God, too. Start with praise followed by requesting forgiveness. Listen for God's response. When you feel the relief of being forgiven, go in peace and risk conversing and interacting with other humans again. Repeat these steps many times each day and most things will go well. Even if you get rejected when trying to apologize to another human, you know God has forgiven you and that's what really matters.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that, Pastor John. Reading the Bible everyday allows me to know God more than how I knew Him before. There's just one life to live, and I want to spend this life not just being busy with my work, but also knowing who God truly is. I agree with you that we have to come to Him with fear and trembling. It's not the kind of fear that a child may have towards..a ghost. It's the kind of fear that is paying respect to our Father, highly-esteeming Him, praising Him , worshiping Him, acknowledging that everything in this world belongs to Him.