My son and daughter, Roman and Abigail, were born in June two years ago, and spent the next 2 months in the intensive care unit at Saint Joe’s; that’s where I spent Father’s Day 2014. They gave me a bottle of root beer in a foam coozie that said “Happy Father’s Day” and I remember thinking how surreal it was to see those words apply to me. God had given me two new things that belonged to Him that He expected me to take care of.
Roman is an introvert (like his daddy) and Abigail is an extrovert (like her mommy). Most mornings I’m up around 5:30 because Roman starts crying. He and I sit on the couch for the next hour. We don’t actually interact a whole lot during that time, but that time is meaningful to him. When he doesn’t get that time, he’s off.
Abigail on the other hand is a force; everything she does she does with her whole heart. She is usually the instigator of the arguments with her brother. She also gives me her full attention during story time. She pays so much attention to detail; I think she’s going to be one of those people who edits Wikipedia.
My wife and I constantly see God’s perspective when we raise our kids. One day we were taking our kids to the park and Roman didn’t want to leave the house. He was having a blast playing with a toy he’d played with a million times before. I picked him up to put him in the stroller and he threw a temper tantrum and thrashed in my arms. I said to him, “Dude, you’re going to have so much more fun playing at the park than with that toy. Trust me and let me put you in the stroller!” I probably got more upset with him than I should have. I don’t blame him, really; he had a good thing going with that toy. What more could I possibly have to offer him that would be better? I realized later how often my Creator says the same thing to me. I resist change when I’m comfortable, even when I know it’s God’s will that I change. I empathize with God; it must be so frustrating parenting me.
In his book “The Weight of Glory” C.S. Lewis said, “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I get chills every time I read that. I imagine that’s how the disciples felt when Jesus told them, “Follow me and I’ll teach you how to fish for people.” God designed us to do something specific, and until we do that thing, we feel unfulfilled. Things just don’t feel right. God tries to take me somewhere he’s so excited for me to go. He knows I’ll enjoy it immensely. But I tend to kick and scream and reach for the toy that I’m so consumed with. I reject His plan for my life.
The largest part of my job as a Chaplain here at Denver Rescue Mission is talking with men in our New Life Program about what it looks like to live a life free from addiction. After seven years of working with them, I’ve realized how similar we are. A lot of us are dads and still working on what it means to be a father. Food, shopping, relationships, money, power; when boiled down, the desire for these things comes from the same place as a desire for heroin, alcohol, marijuana, and crack. There are a myriad of ways I can make myself happy without God’s help. Those ways of course lead to nothing but death, but in the impulsive moment they feel pretty good.
Jesus knows the desires of my heart. Many of those are desires I can’t identify with words. I stumble upon them after I’ve sinned, then submit myself to God’s will. Weeks after that, in my quiet time alone with God, I’ll realize how happy that submission to His will has made me.
In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus said, “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”