There are lessons upon lessons to be learned when you’re a parent. One category of said lessons that I continually find fascinating is the way in which the relationship of my daughter to her mother and I as parents mirrors our own relationship with God, the Father. Our daughter is almost two years old and she is full of personality. As she has gotten more vocal and independent, eating has become an increasingly interesting time of the day. We usually get her situated in her chair, complete with bib and her tray in place, then my wife and I go into the kitchen to get her food and our food ready to bring in the dining room. During this time as we have vacated the dining room, she precedes to howl. It is not the “my arm is falling off,” scream and it is not a light whining, it is somewhere in between those and it attempts to send the message, “I’m hungry right now and why isn’t my food right in front of me?” Usually there are a few frustrated screams that offer a nice breakup to the crying. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen every single time we eat, but it happens enough for me to blog about it.
There has never been a time where we have put our daughter in her seat and not fed her. There has never been a time where we put her in her seat and went into the kitchen never to return. There has never been a time where we came back into the dining room with our food, but not hers. Yet, her disapproving howling seems to assume that one or all of those things are going to take place. Part of it is that she doesn’t fully understand patience at her age. Additionally, I think part of it is that she doesn’t remember that for all the other times this scenario has taken place, food has come in due time. I was thinking last night as this scene took place again in our house that this is not unlike our feelings towards God.
Reading through the Old Testament, it doesn’t take long to find examples of God’s people recounting back to themselves and to God what He has done for them in the past (see Psalm 105 as an example). There was a difference in remembering the historical event and remembering the significance of that event. Remembering for instance that they were able to cross the Red Sea was probably normative to a degree from a historical standpoint, but it seems what they tended to forget was the significance behind it. First, it was significant that God intervened on their behalf in such a visible, miraculous, and incredible way. To refer to that event as just crossing the Red Sea does not contain all the wonder of that event. Second, it is significant because it was just one of many ways in which God intervened on His peoples’ behalf not only in that time of the Exodus, but throughout the course of their existence as a people. This is not unlike the need to remind ourselves as believers on the other side of the cross of the ways in which God has worked on our behalf.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11, ESV).
Jesus makes it clear in the above line of questioning that God is not in the business of not coming through for His children. This is not to be taken as some sort of transactional element to the Christian’s relationship with the Father, but as an affirmation of a healthy parental relationship that exists between the Christian and God the Father. The Father knows our needs and when we ask in His name to supply for those needs, He doesn’t withhold blessing. God continues to be God and He continues to be the same type of God, who is loving, compassionate, caring, powerful, just, holy, righteous, and so on. When we find ourselves in situations feeling much like my daughter, thinking that this new situation is so different than before and it doesn’t matter what God has done in the past, then we can know that we are not thinking from a place of truth. In those moments, we believe a lie.
There have been several people who are smarter than me that have said something to the tune of the Christian life is really just about becoming who we already are in Christ. That is, becoming who we became when we were converted to Christ. Within that, it is about remembering who we are and remembering what God has done. That is why the need to preach the good news and the truth of the gospel to ourselves. That is also why the need to be in a local church as a Christian and to be connected to other believers is so great. We need to be reminded of who we are in Christ and even more than that we need to be reminded of who God is.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, ESV).
The situation we find ourselves in may be different than what we have experienced before. We may need this one aspect of circumstances to be figured out because everything else hinges on it. We might feel up to our eyeballs in confusion, frustration, and doubt. We might be extremely tempted to just figure things out ourselves, to fix the situation, or to just make things work. I wonder if during those times we are really just howling in our high chairs? Meanwhile God is getting things ready for us as He always does in the other room. His work on our behalf is as it has always been, based on the decree of God the Father, secured by God the Son, and applied to us by God the Holy Spirit. His love and intervention for us is rooted in the truth of the cross of Jesus Christ and His completed work. It goes beyond us and is really a question of God being faithful to Himself, which He cannot, not do. Thanks be to God!