Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scared of what He might do to me

I grew up in a Christian family, and have had faith in God for most moments of my life. I've seen his faithfulness and goodness demonstrated to me over and over. Yet, almost every time that I go to church and sing a song like "May your rule and reign take over me, for I long just to please You...", I have to change the words in my head to something like - "Make me want your rule and reign...". Because I can't honestly "mean" the lyrics otherwise.

Why? Because I am afraid. I am afraid that life with God is going to be a hard (miserable?!) life. It's got potential to be a life of suffering, pain, embarrassment, brutal character formation, giving up all the things that I enjoy to serve a lot at church, and on and on. Some of that is true, and some of that we do to ourselves as we mess up the way that God intended us to live. But I'm beginning to glimpse this year that maybe the big invisible God is not out to make my life miserable like I think.

I tell Abby and Rachel (my little girls) that God is a Big Daddy, even bigger than their own big daddy. (Although I don't always know what to make of God, I know that he's still worth experiencing for my girls...). Oddly, when I think about the scary version of God that I just finished explaining, it doesn't mesh very well with the versions of dads that I experience - my own dad, and John as a dad to our kids.

Asked last night what pleases them or brings them happiness in their kids, this is what those two dads had to say. I've had to shorten their words greatly, because these dads have plenty to say about what their kids do that make them happy. (thanks for sharing to my two favorite guys)

John - "More than anything, seeing them being happy... Seeing Abby being caring, which is who she is. Seeing Rachel being energetic, which is so much of who she is..."

Dad - "The quality of character that each [of you] has demonstrated... Joanna demonstrating caring and a strong moral compass.... Joel's strong sense of loyalty, ability to face difficulties without complaint... Danielle's tenacity, work ethic, strong sense of self..."

Turns out that what dads want for their kids is for them to be joyful in life, to demonstrate character in a variety of situations, to excel at being themselves and bringing joy to others as they do. The "being" stands out more than the "doing". Pain, embarrassment, monotonous chores around the house for the kids - these dads don't get a thrill out of those things for their kids.

In the words of two dads, I find some spoken words that reflect what my God might say to me if He were here. Maybe it might go something like this - "Joanna, when I see you being happy, enjoying your family, out running, baking cookies - it makes me smile. When I see that you care for those around you, your excellence and hard work at home and work, that pleases me..." Those things, I could keep on doing. God, keep convincing me of your love and showing that I do not need to be afraid of life with you.

Ask your dad what makes him happy about his kid. And know that another Big Daddy would probably say the same.


Don said...

Nice post. I was interested to see where you were going with your question, which I enjoyed answering (though I got choked up writing it).

I'm reminded of the verse: "For without God it's impossible to please God, but he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that he is the Rewarder of those that diligently seek him."

God is good. He is a Rewarder,Shepherd, Consoler, Father, and Friend. "If our love were but more simple, we would take Him at His word..."

I was reminded of a drawing I had in our little yellow house when you were a toddler... "Unless you change (are converted) and become like a little child..." Our little children often instruct us how to look at our Big Daddy.

PS: The "being" is the important thing. You got it!

Don said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don said...

I woke up this morning thinking about your post and wrote down some notes. I elaborated on them and created this post for you. I hope you find it helpful.

God is Love...

Can God be trusted to consistently do me good? Yes.

Do I always trust God to consistently do me good? No.

He’s trust-worthy, but I’m not always trusting. My bad, not His.

There’s a song that goes, “Doubts and fears? They come from down below…”

When I doubt God, I’m not listening to truth. Who is God?

God is love. (I’ve looked up all the verses that say, “God is…” They’re awesome.)

God is good. (I’ve looked up all the verses I could find that say, “God, who…” Those appositives reveal who God is.)

Why is all this important? Because the image we have of who God is often determines how we interpret our world, and often determines who we are willing to trust.

Psychologists often speak of the role of self-image and who we become. I’d suggest that the role of God-image does the same.

The Apostle John wrote, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love…” Have I known and believed that love?

As I contemplate His love, I find myself convinced of His goodness and love for me. And it changes how I see Him and the world around me. I am converted into an “informed naïveté” where I become simple and childlike. I love, I trust, I act in faith.

If I find myself fearful, I remind myself that “Perfect love casts out all fear…” And I remind myself that “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Want to live more fearlessly? Contemplate His love. Let Him assuage your fears and doubts. Let Him convert you. Hear Him say, “Fear not…” He’s not surprised by our fear, doubt, and unbelief. He doesn’t reject us. He accepts and improves us. He adopts us.”

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God. And it does not yet appear what we shall be.” God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Always has. Always will.

joanna said...

I guess I got you thinking! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dad. You've given me plenty to think about and learn from...for a few months, if not a lifetime, I think!

Don said...

Glad to share my thoughts with you.

The line in my post "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life," is a quote from "3 Spiritual Laws." I have a snapshot of your reading the pamphlet as a 5 or 6 year old.

We're all developing in our faith. God is patient, kind, and loving. Just as I've enjoyed watching you on your journey, I think of Him doing the same with me. (And I'm sure I provide lots of laughs too!)

Thanks for blogging.