Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Father You've Always Wanted

What a great Easter Sunday we had at the church I preach. Easter is like the Super Bowl for churches – biggest crowds of the year, families getting together, a little extra oomph to the service.  On my way to church Sunday I stopped at a convenience store for a little pre-game, I mean pre-worship snack and the clerk, seeing me all dressed up, asked me if I was going to work.  I told him “You bet. I’m a preacher and this is my big day!”   Easter Sunday is a celebration, and rightfully so.

Celebrations are great. Family reunions, special vacations, weddings, graduations, landmark anniversaries are all special occasions which deserve a little more attention and a “write-it-in-pen” designation on our calendars. And I’m glad to see everyone at church on Easter. It’s a good Sunday, but just like moms and dads want to hear from their children more often than those special occasions, so does God.

God is described in many different ways in Scripture but one predominant image of God is Him being our Father. It’s a term loaded with meaning but, more than anything, it’s a relational term. It implies a degree of intimacy that is established and maintained over the course of time through regular interactions. A good father-child relationship doesn’t happen in a celebration-only relationship. It’s in the day-to-monotonous-day, moment-by-tedious-moment interaction where deep love and lasting bonds etch themselves on our souls.

And that love and that bond doesn’t eliminate the need for celebrations, they only make those celebrations more meaningful and powerful. It’s like the difference between a Super Bowl when your team is playing and one where you have little rooting interest. They’re both Super Bowls but the game involving your team that you’ve been following week after week, year after year is more thrilling and more exciting.  Easter becomes even a greater celebration when you’ve been with your Father day in and day out.

Father God wants to be in our lives - every day, not just the celebrations. He’s been like that from the very beginning. In the Garden of Eden God walked with Adam and Eve. He has this thing – he created us and wants to be with us. Yeah, that can be uncomfortable since as a Father he sometimes needs to correct us and even discipline us, but his end-game is to develop a relationship with us that will not only bring him joy (yes, God delights in being your Father) but will bring us joy. And that type of relationship is not accomplished at celebrations alone – it’s the product of a daily relationship.

Maybe if we consider church attendance, prayer, Bible reading and other ways we connect with our Father as relationship building activities rather than legalistic rituals that get us to heaven, we may be more inclined not only to invest in these activities but actually anticipate them. Perhaps if we viewed religion as a path to knowing Father God rather than a series of unrelated and meaningless obligations, maybe we would long for that time together with him like an overseas soldier longs for communication from home.

God wants to be your Father and that’s a good thing. And like all fathers he loves those celebrations but oh how he loves those quiet and ordinary days when he can just sit and be with you. Father and child hashing out the problems of the day; laughing along at life’s eccentricities; sharing the common joys of the world; sharing advice for life’s mysteries. And the best thing, there’s no need to wait for a celebration because Father God is always there. That’s just the way he is.