Deane's Blog

Heavenly Father

You're A Good Good Father

Faith, FamilyDeane Watters2 Comments

Yesterday, the first Sunday in Advent, I felt especially thankful to have part of our family sitting with us in church.  As the worship team began to strum our next song and the lyrics went up on the screen, people started to sing and our little Lucy's eyes brightened up immediately. "We sing that song at our church!" she proclaimed as she started swaying and singing along.

You're a Good, Good Father.

It's who you are, It's who you are, It's who you are

And I'm loved by you.

It's who I am, It's who I am, It's who I am.

Her delight and my history collided in that moment and I felt the impact of God's work in my life.

My dad was a good enough man but he was not a great father to me.  It was a turning point in my healing to understand his humanity, his history. And because of him I absolutely LOVED the idea of God as Father...the only perfect Father. I have come to keep my eyes open for fathers who represent God well as dads to their children. I look around and I see guys who act lovingly toward their children, who teach carefully, who are patient and kind, who come home every night, who are available, good listeners, who accept their kids for who they are, who encourage and build them.

One father made a deep impact on me while in China. Brian and I along with Joel and Rachel were having a little picnic during one of our outings. Our grandchildren, two-year-old Lucy and one-year-old Charles, were hungry, tired and things seemed a bit stressed. At one point, Lucy reached down and found her hand full of dirt. Her eyes lit up and I saw her face brighten as she lifted her hand and proceeded to throw that fist-full straight at me. I don't think there was any malice in the act. She just decided that it was a good idea, something fun.

Now stop and think to yourself. What would most of us do? Our voices might rise a bit and the shaming words would just pop out so easily, "Lucy, you know better than that! We don't throw dirt! Say I'm sorry to Grandma!!"

But that is not what happened. Her daddy picked her up and explained to her that throwing dirt was not a good idea; her decision was a poor choice, a mistake, but it's OK to make mistakes, we just need to make them right. He held her close. He talked quietly. He told her he loved her. He waited for her. He told her again, "It's OK to make mistakes. We love you. But you need to make it right by saying I'm sorry to Grandma."

I could see her little eyes working, stubbornness hovering just an inch above all that love. Then, when the time seemed right, she decided, yes, "I'm sorry Grandma."

Relieved, I responded, "I forgive you, Lucy, Grandma loves you!" followed by a big hug and a kiss. All was forgiven. I never heard it brought up again. She had made it right and learned a few good lessons in the process.

That is what came to my mind as Lucy delighted in the recognition of You're a Good Good Father. 

As the Advent season starts I can't help but go back to this song and breathe in the truth of the goodness of God. Long before Jesus was born, God had the plan to send a Savior to Israel. In Isaiah he wrote: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD - and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

For this season we, of the Christian faith, will focus on Jesus. We will remember how a baby came to earth to save us from our sins. We will recall the story of his birth, his amazing life, death and resurrection as a triumph over sin and death. We'll hear it over and over in Christmas readings and carols, church services and in cards that have already started arriving.

But today I savor our good, good Father who had a plan and carried out his promise. He does not shame or call us to task for our humanity. He loves. He is patient. He made a way for Jesus to make it right. Our self-will hovers above and within us but he patiently waits for his goodness to be recognized and embraced, so that roots can form and a shoot of faith can grow up in our hearts. Wisdom and understanding form a deep-inside-knowing that we are loved and lovable.

That is what I call a good, good Father. 2016-01-18_0020

God, yoga pants, and dad

FaithDeane Watters2 Comments

What do yoga pants, God and our earthly dads have in common? Give up? Well, they were all part of our discussion in Sunday School class yesterday morning.

The topic was "obedience" in the context of chasing after the heart of God. What part does obedience play if we desire to know God and to follow him? Do we trust Him? When we think of God do we remember our relationship with our dad? How do we hear from God? What would he prefer: obedience to the rule or obedience with an ear tuned to his heart?

Sitting in front of me during our church service I saw Scott smile at and gently touch the shoulder of his son. Josh immediately moved closer and snuggled in right under his dad's outstretched arm which closed carefully around him. With such warmth and trust, I can imagine that if Scott would ask something of his son, Josh might be more willing to obey because he feels and trusts his dad's love.

Often people connect how they feel about their dad to how they feel about God. If dad was distant, God feels distant. If dad was angry, God feels angry. If dad was kind, God feels kind. Do you connect the two?

When I was in college I was a part of a group called Lutheran Youth Encounter, an evangelistic team approach to ministry. Every Monday night we gathered for Prayer and Praise. I don't remember much of what we did at those meetings so many years ago, but I do remember one evening very clearly. Our leader came in with a little paperback book called, The Jesus Person Pocket Promise Book. This was back in the seventies!! Young Christians were called Jesus People. :) He passed the book around the circle and asked each of us to open it and randomly place our finger on a verse. That would be God's promise for us that night.

2015-03-02_0001

My finger landed on Promise number 718: When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will  take me up. Psalm 27:10.  The NLT says, Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. That night at Waldorf College sitting there with a group of young people just starting our lives as a witness for Christ, I truly felt this was a word for me from God. My dad left us when I was young and then died when I was twelve. Just heading off to college, trying to figure out who I was, this was a significant piece of me that hurt greatly but I didn't quite know what to make of it.

This verse told me that my earthly dad was NOT my heavenly Father. His mistakes/sins were not my God's. God was able to be trusted, was worthy of respect and would never leave. Only He could be my perfect Father and because of that I wanted him even more.

It would be many years until I untangled the emotion surrounding my dad. But that one night I got a promise from God that he would hold me close. Later I found God's pledge to Joshua as he was about to take the Israelites into the promised land. "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." I took this as my very own comforting verse, enabling a strong faith even when feelings wavered.

When I think of Father God, I am reminded of what I saw when Josh snuggled next to his dad. Close to his heart I am cherished, loved, and known. This is the kind of Father I want to listen and respond to. It's in that kind of relationship that obedience even possible.