Thursday, June 26, 2014

What does your home look like?

Over the past several months, I've been sort of wrestling with God.  Not violently or combatively, just kind of a struggle.

It seems like God is really trying to bring me along.  Sometimes it is understanding a concept and sometimes it is just moving deeper into something he has already been working on me about.  Frankly though, I haven't been able to put all the pieces together.  It's like a puzzle.  I've fit together a nugget of wisdom here or a personal breakthrough there or a conviction at another turn.  I have possession of several small pictures with jagged edges which have been helpful and praiseworthy, but I think there's more.

I don't think that all these lessons or pictures are independent of each other.  I haven't connected them, but there is a sense that they all fit together.

Anyway, during this time, I've started writing or pondered writing about several topics for this blog, but every time I sit down to write, something interferes.  So I have multiple unfinished thoughts written or just rattling around in my brain and while I usually like to wait and post after I have already processed through an idea, I'm struck that this time, maybe I should post in order to process through them.  My hope is that if I write them out, the pieces will start to fit together.

The most recent picture is on parenting.  This one is earth shattering... Ready?  And here it is:

Parenthood is important.

For many people, this is kind of a "Duh!" statement, but stop and think for a minute.  The value of parenting is like importance of "love your neighbor."  We hear it so much, it kind of slides right off our brain without thinking about it.  If we know that loving our neighbor is the second most important thing in the universe, shouldn't we take some more time to figure out if we are doing it?

Thankfully, the neighbor topic can wait for another post.  Today is about parents, but since I'm still processing this one, I can't really share my conclusions.  Instead, let me pull out my inner-Jesus and tell you a story.  There isn't much more than the image itself, because, right now, it is that image that has been given.  What I do with that image is still out in front of me.


Picture a man who desperately wants children.  He wants to love them and teach them and raise them and bless them walk with them and comfort them.  (I know.  This isn't the most abstract parable.  There will probably not be any of you pulling out your inner-disciple at the end and asking me to explain it.)  Anyway, this man doesn't have children of his own, so he adopts.  And for those of you who have adopted or know people who have, you know this is true: he loves these children as if they were his own.  They are a blessing.  They are a precious gift.  They are an fulfillment of a desire and a hope that wells up from depths of his being. These kids are his whole world.

Of course that doesn't mean the kids are perfect.  Some are hellions  Some are angels..  Some earnestly desire time with him, but more often than not, they go their own way.  And his heart soars and breaks with each decision they make, with each challenge that they overcome or the ones that overcome them.  And each one is a new gift.  Each one is like unwrapping a new present under the tree of life.

Well, life goes on, and the father (because that's what he is now), has to go away, so he talks to one of his oldest sons and tells him, "Son, I'm going away." (See how I did that?  That was very biblical to say what I was going to say and then to say it again.  Impressed?)  This son is grown and lives on his own, so the father asks his son to take in his little brothers and sisters while the father is away.  The son says, "Of course," and even though the responsibility is daunting, he is honored to be trusted with it.  He knows it will be hard, but he loves his younger brothers and sisters.  He likes playing with them and is already anticipating some of the fun things they can do together.

But the father is gone longer than was expected.  Days and weeks pass, and the initial feeling of excitement fades into the reality of caring for others.  The younger ones are needy and time consuming and messy and disobedient.  The son doesn't seem to get any time to himself and feels, correctly, like his life has become all about them.  His needs and enjoyment simply don't factor in.  Sometimes he even resents the demands these kids place on this time.  So, while the first few days were filled with trips to the park and movie nights and special outings, the quantity and quality of these kinds of one-on-one interactions fade along with the initial excitement.  The son starts making sure he gets more "me time."

After a long time, the father finally comes home.  He decides not to tell anyone.  He just wants to surprise them, so he just shows up at his son's house.  The anticipation is palpable.  He can't wait to see his kids' shining faces, to kiss them and hug them and hear all about what went on while he was gone.  The closer he gets the more pressure builds in his chest until he can't wait any longer.

Without knocking, he opens the door and walks into his son's home...


So, this is the image of fatherhood  that has been impressed upon me.  (Just in case, God is the father in this story and I am the son.)  My guess is that some of you felt some dread as to what the father was going to see when he walked in, but I didn't describe the scene that father sees, because I don't know what it looks like yet.  I'm not finished.  However, I do know is this:

My kids aren't mine.  They are His.  He has entrusted them to me.  He loves them more than I can grasp.  He loves me too, and He has given me an awesome and daunting responsibility: "Take care of my children."  He is expecting me to raise and care for them as He would, and He knows that the quality of the job I do will directly impact their ability to love Him.  But while I understand that God loves me, and that love may temper some of His anger toward me, I also understand that should I harm these children, should I simply fail to cherish them as the precious gift that they are, there is nowhere I can go to hide from a father's wrath.

One day God will call my children (His children) home.  I believe that more so than possibly any other aspect of my life, there will be a reckoning as to the quality of the job I have done with His precious children.

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