When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. -Ephesians 3:14-19
So, on one side, there’s my God. And on the other side, there’s the God my soul desperately cries for and sincerely hopes is real.
I don’t know my dad. At least not anymore. I did at one point, when I was a boy. He and I did the weekend thing. Looking back I know it wasn’t ideal, but at the time I had no idea that it wasn’t the norm. I remember riding in his red Volkswagen Bug to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal on Sunday afternoons before he took me home.
*Just curious, what possessed the Germans to think that putting the engine behind the back seat was a good idea? I just know that I have some hearing loss because of hours spent in the backseat of that catastrophe of automobile engineering.
I remember dad coming to get me on Friday afternoons. I remember him taking me for rides on his motorcycle. I remember visiting an older family member (I think it was my great aunt) with him, and eating watermelon on the front porch.
For some reason, I don’t remember exactly when he decided to stop coming. It’s funny how the mind has a way of protecting the heart. Some sort of survival mechanism, I guess.
But somewhere between his decision and now, I became a survivor. Which, if you know my roots, is no big surprise. I come by that character trait honestly.
Here’s what is great about survivors. Survivors don’t complain. Ever. Now they may gripe every now and then, but that’s more of a love language than anything else. Survivors aren’t afraid of work. They will jump into any and every task with a “can do” attitude. And they will make sure the job gets done. You don’t have to offer much criticism to survivors, because they’re harder on themselves than anyone could ever be. Survivors are reliable and dependable. Their word is their bond. I have often told myself “I won’t be that dad.” Survival mechanism. Survivors don’t run from difficult situations. And they’re not afraid to fail.
You can trust a survivor. A survivor trusts himself. Usually above all else.
Here’s what is deadly about survivors (or at least this survivor). Survivors draw hard boundaries. The message is clear. “I might let you in, but it’s only going to be on my terms.” Survivors see the world through a fixed lens, and can’t fathom the fact that others might see things differently. Survivors judge. And I don’t mean the kind of judging where we utilize biblical discernment. I mean the kind of judging that states I am not only correct, but that only a complete moron would even think about disagreeing with me.
Survivors tend to fashion all things, including God, in their own image. I know I did. And do. My God is tough and unyielding. Perhaps easy to talk to, but hard to please. I don’t think my image of Him is holding up very well, however.
Survivors always put themselves first. Always. At times it may not seem that way, but we do.
We’re the ones who say, “Love is not given, it is earned.” “Respect is not given, it is earned.” “Trust is not given, it is earned.” Probably not a biblical manner of living, but it keeps me protected. Survival mechanism.
We live out every relationship within the confines of our own expectations. Fall short, and you will suffer the consequences.
We’re better at punishing than forgiving.
All the anger, hurt, bitterness, and sadness that lives inside us colors everything we see and do. Colors the ways we relate to our families, friends, marriages, work, and play. Doesn’t it stand to reason that it would color the way we relate to God, also?
So, the question I’m wrestling with is…do I trust God?
Am I willing to let go of the anger? The hurt? The sadness?
Am I willing to forgive?
Am I willing to love people the way God seems to love them? With a wild eyed, free spirited, nothing can hold it back kind of love?
Am I willing to let my boundaries move? Am I willing to let my walls crumble?
Am I willing to risk letting go of the God I’ve made in my image? From my circumstances?
Am I willing to embrace the God who never was like that in the first place? And who screams for me to know His unfettered love?
Yes. Yes. Yes!