Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Father's Day

One of the most interesting things I've discovered in my walk with God is that He gives us relationships here on earth to teach us about our relationship with Him. The more we understand about friendship, marriage, leadership, subservience, etc. -- the more we learn about how God views us and relates to us.

I'm only scratching the surface right now when it comes to fatherhood, and how my experiences with my son are teaching me about my heavenly Father and how he sees me, but I've had a few thoughts:
  • I've often asked the question, "Why would God intentionally create a being that He knew would rebel, reject and scorn him?" And I now look at my son and know that, in all probability, he will rebel against me at some point, hate me and try to distance himself from me. But the answer to my question is revealed in this: we create because the potential for love reciprocated is far greater than the fear of eternal rebellion.
  • Selfless love -- Jeremiah can't give anything back to me, at least not intentionally. He is incredibly self-centered ("gimme gimme, I need, I need"), and my role is to provide for him and love him unconditionally. God loves us too unconditionally, and provides for us even when we're too wrapped up in ourselves.
  • Dependence -- Without his mother and I, Jeremiah would perish. He is literally unable to take care of himself, to strike out on his own and to be fulfilled. His very existence depends on us, and he clings to us because of it. We are his world entire. When he grows up, our role will shrink and shrink, but that's not the case with us and God -- we are always 100% dependent on Him, unable to provide for ourselves what we truly need.
  • Patience - Every day I can't help but wonder what kind of man he's going to grow up to be... what he'll look like... whether he'll have my eyes or his mother's... what kind of personality he'll hold. And most importantly, whether he will accept Christ or not. I would breathe a lot easier if I could come back from the future to tell myself that everything, indeed, worked out okay. But instead, I must be patient, and trust in God and His plan -- just as He is patient with us, watching us develop and His plan unfold, step by step.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Our Cry

"My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God." (Psalm 84:2)

Crying is a topic that's been on my mind more often than not these days. When you have a newborn baby in the house, that comes with the territory.

Babies aren't born with any ability to communicate beyond crying. It's all they know how to do, and they do it prodigiously -- crying to signal hunger, or a messy diaper, or the need to be held, or even just over-stimulation. Everybody likes to laugh at new parents who tear their hair out trying to figure out what the squirt is crying over at any given point, until you are the new parents, and you gain a wholesale appreciation of what your mother and father went through.

My son came out of the womb with a Ph.D. in crying; he doesn't do it halfway, he takes it to a professional level. The cries start with grudging, half-hearted noises... sort of a car revving up the engine. Then there's the long, low wail... "pay attention to me!" This is followed by a symphony of shrieks and noises of extreme displeasure, one after another with only a quick breath in between. If he really gets worked up, he can turn his face red and rattle the ceiling with cries that are designed to reach into my spinal column and jar it severely.

So, I think about crying (not crying myself, although at times that is an attractive option), but the basic need behind a cry. We take for granted all of the times that the Bible tells us about so-and-so "crying out" to God: the Hebrews in Egypt crying out for freedom... the Israelites crying out for victory over the Philistines... Job crying out in agony... the Psalmist crying his heart out... unrepentant sinners crying out because of the consequences of their actions... the mother crying out to Jesus to save her daughter from demon possession... even Christ himself crying out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

They cry to God because of a strong need, a need to be heard, to be helped, to be saved, to be comforted. And if their hearts are repentant, God responds -- He hears us (Exodus 22:23), He brings justice (Luke 18:7), He consoles (Luke 7:13), He fulfills our purpose (Psalm 57:2), He grants us understanding (Proverbs 2:3)... and He delivers us (Isaiah 19:20).

There's something basically honest in a cry. It can't be faked, not when it comes from the heart. It says, "I need! I need!" But it also says, "Only you can give me this, and I put my trust in you for it!" When we cry out to Jesus, we are excluding other gods, other rescuers, other sources of hope. We put our chips all into one basket, belief without compromise. Only Jesus can hear our cry and answer it fully.

Right now, many desperate people in our country are crying out for rescue and deliverance, from finances and terrorism and whatnot. Like the Israelites once did, the country is looking to our own leaders to answer their cry, but that puts hope in a faulty proposition. God will leave us to our mistaken hope, if we choose it -- but if we ever get sick of disappointment, then we may fall to our knees, lift our heads up, and cry out, "Save me!" to the only one who truly can.

My son cries because he needs me and his mother -- he cannot have it any other way. Why should our attitude toward God be any different?