She has learned that he is trustworthy. He always holds her up when she tries to stand. He carries her wherever he wants her to go. He shows her new and exciting things. He always comes home. She knows she is safe with him.
This is the man of her dreams. In the next few years, she will have tea parties with him, dress up for him, and plan to marry him. This is exactly as it should be for daddies and their little girls.
However, as she grows up life will challenge her admiration. If she continues to see life only from her perspective, and doesn’t spend time learning who this man is and what motivates him, she will often think that he doesn’t understand her, is old-fashioned, and too strict. She will question his judgment and his motives. She might even stomp her sweet little feet, ball her precious fists and defiantly declare how much she doesn’t like him as she slams her bedroom door.
We are much like this little girl when it comes to our relationship with our Father, God. When we are young in our faith we see God much like a child sees her dad: God will never leave us standing alone, he will always hold us up, carry us where he wants us to go, show us new and exciting things and will always be there when we need him, or when we go to church. We want a God who is safe and who will keep us safe.
Children grow up and so must we; we must not stay baby Christians. However, as we grow in our faith, we must see to it that we grow in our understanding of who our Father is. We must not only learn what living a Christian life looks like, we must allow our understanding of God to grow.
If our image of God doesn’t grow, then when things happen that we don’t particularly like, we just might tend to throw a little spiritual temper tantrum, stalk off, and slam the door on him. We might even tell him how awful we think he is. Some of us might decide to run away from home.
In our immaturity we try to define what our relationship with God should be – even if it is not what God’s Word says it should be – because we want a manageable God. We desire a God who will come on board with our plans, who will let us dictate our relationship boundaries based on what we think is sufficient, and who will indulge our attitudes, whims, and fancies.
We want a God who will have a tea party with us and let us tell him all about our day, who will tuck us in safely at night, and then leave us alone. We want a God who will save us from the boogeyman, protect us from our big brothers, and generally let us remain as infants in his care.
God, however, wants us to grow up in our understanding of him and of what it means to be a Christian. Therefore, he causes, or allows difficult things to happen in our lives because he knows that our suffering will discipline and strengthen us. Yet, like little children, we think he is too strict, too old-fashioned, irrelevant, and perhaps a bit of an alien.
If we could always remember when God seems scratchy, or hard, or distant, or mean, that he is none of those things – he is always perfectly good. He is always perfectly true. He is always perfectly just. He always acts in perfect love. His decisions are always perfectly wise. He is perfectly right in all he does because he is eternal and knows all things; there is nothing he does not know now, or in the past, or in the future – and that includes what is best for us.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! — Matthew 7:11 (NIV)
As human mothers and fathers, we try to do what is best for our children and sometimes we fail because we don’t know the past, the present, or the future perfectly. Nor are we perfect; we have a sin nature that loves to wreak havoc with our motives, our thoughts, and our hearts.
God alone is perfect and he is worth getting to know in all his ways, character, and attributes. He is worth the relationship that he desires to have with us – a relationship built on the truth of who he is — not who we think he is, or who we want him to be. The only way to truly get to know God is to spend time reading and studying his Word and then applying what we have learned.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. — James 1:22 (NIV)
Will you make this the year that you discover more of who your Father is – the truth of who he is – not the distorted ideas you might have nurtured based on childish impressions, garbled voices, or selfish desires. Will you spend time with God in his Word and let him grow your understanding of who he is into maturity so that you will find him to be the safety that you have always desired.
If starting, or maintaining, a daily habit of quiet time is on your list of things for the New Year, please try this devotional…