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.