My Daddy

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

My dad pretty much never poses for pictures and my mom would kill me if I post the one family photo I do have on my computer, hence Stock Photo of Man Staring Contemplatively into the Middle Distance.

Gentle Reader,

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Compassion Bloggers post, so I’m glad I caught this month’s prompt. In celebration of Father’s Day, we were asked to answer three questions:

What would the ideal day with your Heavenly Father look like?

If you had an hour alone with God and could ask Him only one question, what would it be?

And with Father’s Day right around the corner…

What’s that one day or one moment with your earthly father that stands out?

The best part about these questions is that they reduce to the normally-verbose me (verbose in written form, at least) to simple answers.

My ideal with day with God: Sitting with Him in the shade of a giant tree, next to a clear, rushing river. Listening to Him talk about how and why He made the delicate flowers that blanket the meadow just behind us. Climbing up into His lap and listening to His heart beat. I wouldn’t want to say anything at all. Like a lovesick puppy-dog, I would just want to be with Him.

One question I would ask Him: There are many, but the one that stands out right now has to do with my brother. I would want to know why God allowed Him to suffer so much physical pain.

Stand-out moment with my earthly dad: Again there are many, but since my wedding anniversary was just two days ago, I remember how he held my hand tight just before we made that long trek up the aisle and into a new chapter of the story. He began to speak in a low voice, as he does, so that only I could hear. “We can leave right now if you want to. We can go get a hamburger.” Then at the reception he rocked out with me to our father-daughter dance song, “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seeger. That’s love, man. That’s love.

Father’s Day can bring up a lot of emotions. Relationships are strained or non-existent. Orphans wonder about biological dads and thank God for the dads who stepped in to raise them. Right now, my mom struggles as her father trudges through the tough valley of the shadow with pancreatic cancer.

Some fathers are distant and noncommunicative. Others are brutal in their violence. Some strive to be men of integrity, raising their children with love and care. There are funny dads and quiet dads, rough-and-tumble dads and gentle dads. Then there are the “other fathers,” the men like my husband who pour themselves into the lives of all the children they meet. They become safe people who help support and guide the little ones.

Father’s Day can poke at wounds and cause a strange mixture of sorrow and gratefulness to well up in our hearts. We mourn what is not and smile at what is. We thank God for the men, whoever they are, who wrap us in bear hugs and rise up to protect us. And yet we need more. We need something deeper than a human dad. And our dad’s need that something, too.

We need God. We need Abba. The Eternal Daddy. The one who holds the men who break when their children are ill. The one who holds the men who don’t know how to love. The one who holds the kids of all ages who feel the love and the confusion, the sorrow and the joy. So whatever we feel this Father’s Day, whatever the relationship we have with our dad’s, we must rest in this: Our Abba, our Daddy, is ever-near. Where our earthly fathers fail, He never does.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Fear

Image Source- oregonlive.com (7)

Gentle Reader,

I want to go play tomorrow in celebration of my ninth wedding anniversary, so housework instead of the chat was the game Thursday evening. Linking up with Kate and the people even though I missed the party. This week we: fear.

Go.

There are many places that this prompt could take me. Fear is part of my daily life. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there. This is a running theme here and so I don’t want to focus on that today.

Instead, I want to talk about the fear of others.

The fear those nine people must have felt.

I can’t fully grasp the horror and terror of the final moments of the victims of the Charleston shooting. I won’t pretend to. The world must have slowed to a complete stop as they shifted from fellowship and study to realizing that the end had come.

I don’t understand Dylan Roof. How can anyone be so twisted as to enter a house of worship and gun down people who were gathered in peace to study Scripture? What sort of twists and turns did he take in his mind to arrive at that place?

All I know is that we now have a young man in the national spotlight who clearly confirms the truth about sin and our need for a Savior. We now have families who will never be the same again. We now have yet another reason to examine our attitudes toward and ideas about both gun safety and violence.

Perhaps most importantly, we, the Body of Christ, have an opportunity to step up and say that racism is wrong. To say that we stand with our brothers and sisters of all skin tones. To refuse to let casual prejudices, the ones we grew up with, go unchecked. We have a chance to exhibit both the love and justice of God as we encourage forgiveness – as much as that word lodges in my throat in regard to this situation – along with supporting Roof’s prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

The Gospel doesn’t promote hatred. I’ll say it louder: THE GOSPEL DOESN’T PROMOTE HATRED. Neither does the Gospel support hatred. To have a Biblical worldview means to understand and accept the complete equality of every person in the eyes of God, for He made each one. Skin tone and ethnicity are gifts, not curses. They are expressions of His delightful creativity, of His penchant for drawing disparate people into His family so that

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28 (NKJV)

If kids can grasp this, so can we.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

P.S. – Extra bonus video.

His Fragrance Surrounds Us

Now thanks be to God who always leads us (5)

Gentle Reader,

Do you realize how good the Lord is?

I’m not sure we think about that often enough. He’s just plain good. He has no dark side. He doesn’t need therapy. He’s not messed up. He’s never stepped wrong or made a bad decision.

And this good God, this holy Lord, responds to us.

I’ve been reading the Book of Ezra. Unfortunately I don’t have time today to get into all the richness I’ve discovered, but six chapters in I marvel at how tender God is toward His people. The people of Judah (at this point their religion begins to be referred to as Judah-ism, or Judaism, and the people as Jews) return to Jerusalem after 70 years in exile and captivity. The city is in ruins. The Temple is a wreck. Despite the passage of time, no rebuilding or restoration efforts have taken place. Men with names like Sheshbazzar, Zerubbabel and Jeshua lead their people across the long miles into the mess.

God’s activity is everywhere. He moves Cyrus to set them free (in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 44:28). He grants them favor with their neighbors, who shower them with precious materials like gold, silver and livestock. The sacred items of the Temple, stolen by Nebuchadnezzar, are returned to them. They have all that they need to begin the process of rebuilding.

Almost immediately, they face opposition. They are harassed, tempted into bad alliances and falsely accused. Officials in the Persian government send letters to several monarchs, pointing out the past rebellion of the Jews. Why should they be allowed to restore their city?

Discouragement. Defeat. Exhaustion.

Onto the scene step Haggai and Zechariah, prophets of God. They spoke His truth to the weary remnant. They were “with them, helping them” (Ezra 5:2). The Lord knew what He had called His people to do and what it would take. He knew what hardship they would face.

He did not leave them to do a single thing on their own.

Because He is good.

He always leads us to victory. We may not choose to follow, but that’s His direction. That’s His path.

If we have a mind to, if we ask Him to grant us the perspective, we can see Him even in the toughest of times. We can hear His voice. We can even smell Him as the fragrance of His presence lingers. There is no opposition that can stand against Him. There is no plan of His that can be thwarted. He will see His plan through to completion. He will accomplish His purposes.

How humbling it is to realize that He does this for and through us! He doesn’t walk the triumphal parade route alone. He leads us on it. He equips our hands to do the work. He opens our mouths to speak His world. He uses us as atomizers, dispensing holy perfume throughout the world.

We are too quick to dismiss and avoid dwelling on the immense and even insane goodness of God toward us. That the infinite and majestic Lord would see our tears and send us comfort; that He would soothe our frustration; that He would remove roadblocks in His perfect timing because He wants to be good to us is too much for me to contemplate without tears of thankfulness and praise rolling down my cheeks.

He knew how these people had rebelled in the past and how they would rebel in the future. He knew all their faults and failures. He knew how overwhelmed they were, how big the project was. He knew they would face opposition and that the resentment of their neighbors would be palpable. Out of the richness of His goodness and grace, He covered them. He provided for all their needs.

So too with us. With you. With me. He knows each one of us so well. Better than we know ourselves. He knows how we rebelled and sinned yesterday and He knows how we’ll do it tomorrow. But He never lets up. He never abandons us.

Because He is good.

My journey to faith. (15)