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Posts Tagged ‘father’


Good times can be hard to release.

 

When crisis is absent, relationships are in sync, my health is good and finances are balanced, I can unconsciously decide to try to preserve that moment, that state.  Knowing God is a given, no maintenance required, but those pleasures must be protected.  So, even as I move away from the Lord, ironically I still expect, even feel entitled to, the pleasure and peace I enjoyed while with him.  While the possibility of stress and fear of discordant outcomes doesn’t seem significant in his presence, once I make my move, that perspective is quickly dispersed and the pressure begins building.

 

The truth is, beyond being futile, gripping my present so tightly harms my future.  If I resist God’s good work to grow me up in favor of staying put, I’ve again wrenched back control from his perfect will and begun managing the elements of my life to form my vision of a good future.  From his endless affection, Father still gives wonderful gifts to me, but I tend toward dismissing their power; enjoying the benefit but ignoring the source.  I suppose that could be a decent seven-word summary of idolatry.  I’d love to say I recognize what’s happening right away and quickly turn back, but it is only when I have traveled a few miles and been sufficiently disturbed by hazards that I realize the error – the repeated error – I’ve committed.  Somewhere along the way, those gifts became my reason and purpose.  With my smiling approval, they became my gods.

 

As my eyes shed their fog, shame and embarrassment pang; my foolishness is distressingly familiar, and I stare, incredulous that I could again voluntarily choose blindness.  Yet even this he redeems!  As I return to him much like the wayward son in Luke 15:17-20, understanding sprouts through the soil of my repentance.  I rediscover his heart and his character as he hugs me tightly, and after a terrible, lost moment, I hug him back.  He suffocates my fear with his love.  The healing from the new wounds will take longer, I know, but I feel no doubt it will come.

 

After several trips through this craggy trail of godless striving I’ve begun to see his intent.  God will always allow our brash interpretations and headstrong wills to take us away from his heart into struggle and suffering and pain – not to punish us, but rather to bring repentance, restoration and peace through letting reality burn away the dross of our foolishness.  And despite apprehension of the experience, I am grateful.  And I’m awed by the agonizing, deliberate restraint of a father who can remove the suffering, but for our sake does not, because he knows it will not last forever, that we will emerge more alive than ever before.  So he suffers with his children through the inevitable shock, accusations and desperate pleading until we collapse into his arms, finally surrendered.  He never takes offense or throws up his hands in exasperation.  His grace, the beautiful, pure grace of the only complete father for his children, never runs out.

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What am I expecting? More specifically, what am I expecting from Jesus? Does he want me to expect anything? Is expecting something from him, even the best things I can imagine, presumptuous?

I realize that I have been wrestling with these questions for a good long while. It’s difficult to find answers. What usually gets in my way, ironically, is me. My own misinterpretations, my own emotions, my flesh.

Is there a difference between presumption and faith? If I believe God, what ought my expectations be? Oddly, it sometimes feels like I’m expecting him to harm me. It doesn’t matter that that’s opposite of how God presents himself; sometimes the idea just creeps in. Fear, doubt, apprehension, all tend to immobilize me, or at least make me hesitant to act.

But what about his word? What do God’s own words tell me about the truth of these things? An easy one is Jeremiah 29:11, which reads, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

So, it seems clear expecting him to harm me is foolish. The opposite, in fact – he promises to prosper me, to give me hope and a future.

So what should I expect from God? That he’ll keep his promises to me. That he won’t act like those who have let me down in the past. That he wants good for me, longs for me to be ever closer to his heart. And if God wants good for me, is there anything or anyone who can stop him?

So I can expect his best, true life, peace, love, if I surrender to his intentions. That’s not presumption; it’s expectation built on confidence in who God is and how he feels about me. I expect his best not because I’m arrogant, or because I see myself as having earned a reward, but because he loves to give good gifts! (Matt. 7:11) That’s the kind of father he is! A true father. One who keeps his promises.

Scripture Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION
Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.

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