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Being a Son, “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” December 5, 2014

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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We were in a hurry this morning.  We are in a hurry most mornings.  My wife and daughter leave the house a half-hour before my son has to catch the bus and I have to go to work.  I try to watch the clock and try to keep my son and I on track to catch the bus and get to work on time. He inherited a little bit of a short attention span and difficulty with focus from me.  I looked at the clock and realized my son was in danger of missing the bus, so I encouraged him to get his shoes on and get moving.  He and I are sluggish in the morning.  If it were up to me, I’d sleep in until 8, and have a leisurely breakfast or brunch after I wake up slowly over coffee and the morning news, stay at home, and stay in my pajamas, thick socks and a bathrobe until I had to go out for something, or started fixing something around the house.  But alas, I am not independently wealthy.

If it were up to me there would be no rushing, but I have to be at work on time, which means my son has to catch the bus so I don’t have to deliver him to school.  And when I leave, I have to face exponentially more difficult traffic for every minute of delayed departure.  Today it meant my son was rushing around trying to get his things together.  Homework.  Backpack.  Lunch.  Band instrument.  And a book.

His book was in his upstairs bedroom, so at what I felt was the last minute before he had to leave, he ran up to get it.  He ran down the stairs and on his way to the door, tripped over something.  I’m not sure if it was something on the floor, or his feet, or the last step down.  Fortunately, it wasn’t near the top of the stairs, or he could have been seriously injured.  I checked his face to make sure he hadn’t hit his head or bit his tongue or damaged teeth.  I asked him if he was OK.  He said he had hurt his wrist and his knees, but basically he wasn’t seriously injured.  After a check of face and flexibility to figure out if anything was broken, finding no visible damage or blood, I got him on his feet, said some words of gentleness and encouragement, dried the tears.  He calmed down and was able to catch the bus.  On his way out the door, I made sure he had his backpack, his instrument, and his lunch.  I had already put his extra book into his backpack.  I told him that if his wrist or knees kept hurting, he should go to the school nurse.  I ran out the door before the bus came, to the corner bus stop a few houses down, to bring him his antibiotics and morning meds, and was able to administer them before the bus came.  He had left them on the kitchen table in his haste.  And then I was able to hurriedly handle the necessary chores of the house before running to work myself.  I didn’t do everything I wanted to do, but I did everything I absolutely had to do.

If it were up to  me, I would have spent longer calming him down.  I would have said more to encourage him gently.  I would have driven him to school, waiting in the 10 minute car queue to get him to the school doors.  I was grateful a trip to the hospital wasn’t needed.  And if it were up to me I would have been able to complete all of the household tasks I wanted to get done before I left for work.  They’ll have to wait until tonight.

My son has fallen before.  He had stitches over an eye once, dislocated his leg once, and other less serious falls.  I was a clumsy kid.  I grew and didn’t adjust readily to my longer legs, longer arms, bigger feet.  It took me a while to get used to myself.  Or maybe I’m still getting used to myself.  It means I understand what he was going through this morning.  I fell a lot when I was young, and still occasionally fall.

And now you know what happened to him.  He’s OK, and at school for the day.

I was driving to work for the day and listening to some calming classical music.  And I started to mentally process what had happened, and my own feelings about it all.

To me, everything has a spiritual parallel.  Everything Earthly is a shadow of something Heavenly.  I believe that because of Hebrews 8:5, among other biblical texts.  This means that as a father, I, being created in God’s image, am supposed to strive to be a parallel of God the Father.  Jesus told us to address God as “Our Father in Heaven,” in Matthew 6.  I had to ask God as my Father in Heaven, did I demonstrate His care to my son?  I think I did ok.  In spite of his previous falls, I’m not jaded since I so easily and quickly fall myself.  At a gut level, my heart hurt for him and cried out.  I did not say what I was thinking and praying, which was something like, “Oh, God!  What happened?  How?  Help my son!” all at once.  Instead, I just asked, “Are you hurt?” and went from there.  I rubbed his back to calm him while I was making the physical assessment to determine whether medical intervention was needed.  I hugged him and told him I love him.  And then I sent him on his way, and helicopter-parented for just a bit longer to make sure he had what he would need physically for the school day.

Is God the Father a helicopter parent?  I confess, sometimes I just don’t think He is.  I know in my heart that He is.  But there are moments of doubt.  I think He reminds us of things we need to know if we’re in tune.  But he lets me fall.  I wasn’t watching to see my son fall, I only heard the thud and the cry of heartbroken desperation.  And what does God the Father do, when he sees us fall and hears our cries of heartbroken desperation?  I’m almost in tears right now.  I don’t always feel The Hand stroking my back with love, hear The Voice of encouragement.  When I’ve fallen, I hurt, I don’t know what I am doing or what to do next, I’m scared, and I don’t always feel His presence.

I know what makes me feel the doubt, the worry, the fear.  I have things I feel are needs, that I can’t have for some reason.  I have deadlines I can’t meet.  I even know the triggers that make me fall.

If I were a father with infinite resources and power, and my son would grow to be a man with infinite resources and power, what would be the purpose of letting him fall?  What’s the purpose of letting ME fall?  I hated the sick feeling I had watching my son struggle.  But there’s something in the viewpoint of God that places some kind of value on it, so He lets me fall.  He limits my resources.  He makes me wait.  He lets people suffer.  He allows evil to exist and to take a measure of power over the world.

I don’t understand this.  And then there’s a guy at work.  In a cross moment, I once bitterly remarked to my wife that I regretted not having enough money to go out to eat more.  Almost immediately, in steps my work friend, who, for reasons I do not understand, has, at least once every two weeks, purchased an extra breakfast biscuit, and given it to me, just as a gift.  Or, given me fully half of his Donatos pizza.  I did not know Donatos pizza tasted so good.  And I didn’t share with him my selfish, angry, bitter desire.  He just stepped in, being God’s Hand, to answer that prayer.

I don’t understand.  And then there’s a guy at church.  He owns a company, and he offered my wife a job.  She took it because we needed it.

What I really want, the cry of my heart, is wisdom and margins.  I mean, I’d like to be a wiser husband and father.  I’d like to fall less.  I’d like more faith that things are really OK, or that they’re going to be OK.  I’d like there to be enough to meet the needs in our life, plus  little extra to be able to give away.  I’d like to be shown, and teach my children, that there is enough and we can always trust God to take care of us, so we learn to always make time and take opportunities to give back.  Because God is a God of infinite resources.

In a very conservative, very limited, very small way, for such a big, limitless God, God has met our needs and has even given me some margins.  But I still feel the thorny stranglehold of the world and life’s concerns on my faith.  Those things I need to get fixed, they’re waiting for sufficient resources to allow me to get them fixed, that cause the crisis of faith when they trouble me.  Those things I need to do that I don’t have time or energy to do.  Those things I want to do that I can’t because of the urgency of what needs to be done, and my energy levels already being spent on the urgent. In every way, I’m aware that every other human being has either a worse situation, or at least the same difficulties in life, as I do.  I’m not special.  But I want to be.

Because I’m God’s son, I want His Hand on my back to comfort me when I fall.  I want His resources enabling me to take care of myself, and be a good husband and father to my family, and enabling me to be a better example of stewardship than the current [unspeakable] failure that I feel I am.

I want to work for it.  I want to earn it.  I want Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” at the end of it all.  But I also want Him to encourage me, tell me He loves me, help me back to my feet, hug me, make sure I have everything I need for the day, and then send me off to do whatever His work for me is for today.

This is my prayer for you today, wonderful readers:

May God grant you the comforts of His presence, encouragement, love and wisdom, a clear focus on the tasks at hand, ample margins of resources, time and energy, and limit the crises so you have enough time and energy to make progress toward His goals and purposes.  May you feel a Fatherly Hug when you need it, and see His loving hand guiding and helping you along the way, especially when you stumble.  And when in His wisdom, for some reason, He decides to let you fall and cry, may He dry your tears.

And it’s my prayer for me, too.  God, could you start with my tears first?

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