Sunday, May 4, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes—or Grown Children

A couple of weeks ago, our young adult daughter (who lives with us) had a bit of a mishap in our freezer, knocking leftover pizza into the cavern behind its pull-out drawer.  As she looked around for help, I assured her that she was quite capable of solving her problem.  Ruth’s immediate response was to call out loudly, “Daddy, help!”

I will admit that my initial reaction was a critical one: “Why bother Dad when you can do it yourself?”  I fished the errant pizza out of the bottom of the freezer in order to save my long-suffering husband an interruption in his work.  It didn’t take more than a few moments, though, for me to realize that Ruth’s approach has considerable merit.  Her 27 years of experience and relationship with her father had taught her to run to him whenever she had a problem. 

As believers, we have a faith relationship with our heavenly Father that gives us the same privilege.  To be sure, faith is not an excuse for laziness.  God expects and desires us to use the gifts and resources He has given us, and to exercise responsibility before Him.  If we approach this truth with an American spirit of independence, we will find ourselves back in the Garden of Eden with Eve, choosing to live life by our own power and wisdom rather than in dependence upon our Maker.  But walking before Him, exercising our gifts for His purposes and His glory means that we include Him in the adventure. 

I would guess that most believers understand the importance of running to our Father when we are in great need.  We come to Him in prayer when we are sick, injured, unemployed, persecuted.  It is a wonderful thing to run to our Lord for comfort and help when we are in trouble.  I would also guess, though, that we are somewhat less likely to run to our Father when we are not in apparent trouble, or when we think that we can handle our own troubles. 

What we often fail to recognize is that we are always in trouble, and we can never handle it ourselves.  Our sin nature continually tugs at us, urging us to serve ourselves in opposition to God and others.   Our relationships are broken; we are tired; our days (and often our nights) are punctuated with guilt and regret.   And no matter how hard we try and how fast we go, we can fix neither ourselves nor our lives. 

Praise God!  We have a Father in heaven who delights in us and delights in His redemptive work in us and through us.  Thanks to Jesus’s death on the cross to cover our sins, we can enjoy a real righteousness before the God of the universe.  And we have Jesus as our Model as well as our Savior.  Jesus made no secret of His dependence upon His Father:  “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”  (Jn. 14:10).   Jesus also made no secret of the importance of His disciples depending upon Him: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  (Jn. 14:5). 

I can learn a lot from our daughter.  Even as I strive for excellence as I try to faithfully use the resources the Lord has given me, I must remember to remain well within shouting distance of my Daddy.