Does God Like Me? His Children Need to Know the Correct Answer
“Daddy, are you and God the same?”
The question froze me in my tracks. What was behind it? If my son had been wondering what God was like and concluded that God and I just might be the same person, was that the good news or the bad news?
The experience our young children have with us is the basis of their first understanding of what God is like. That sober reality came back like a siren a few years later.
It was Sunday morning. The van turned down the road on the familiar trek to Church. Except this morning, we wouldn’t be making the right hand turn leading there. We wouldn’t be late. We weren’t going at all.
The concern oozing out of her heart filled the van. My daughter, seven years old at the time, said, “Daddy, do you think God is okay with us not going to Church? Does that make Him mad?” Staring into the trees out the side window, she was just sure God was angry about going to the lake instead of being in Church.
Sounds like God, doesn’t it? Angry at parents with little kids so exhausted from a season of intense medical trauma that the Dad opts for a once-in-a-blue-moon Sunday spent at the lake?
After all, isn’t God angry most of the time?
I assured my little girl that God thought spending Sunday at the lake was a very good idea but it was well into the trip before her furrowed brow relaxed. What she was really wrestling with was the question many of us have as children and pack like some overstuffed suitcase into adulthood: Does God approve of me?
Some serious soul-searching was in order. What had I done? How had I parented her to cause worry that God doesn’t approve of us if we deviate even a little from the beaten path?
How many parents feel they have done enough to ensure their children grow up with the sense that God loves them? That He approves of them? That He thinks they’re just great? Clearly, as a young dad, I hadn’t done enough.
Dads, our children need to know, need to feel, our strong approval of who they are when they are young because in large measure, their perception and understanding of God is a reflection of their relationship with us.
Through our parenting, do we communicate the message that our children are loved and are approved of only when their behavior conforms to a given standard or do we communicate the truth? God’s default position toward His children is that, like all good fathers, He really likes them . . . and wants them to spend Sunday morning at the lake, from time to time.
Looking for ways to love your wife or husband better? If you read and apply the teaching in these books, your marriage will never be the same. 100 Ways To Love Your Wife & 100 Ways To Love Your Husband
Noramlly I’m very encouraged by these posts…but God wants us to skip church and spend a Sunday morning at the lake? Where do you find that in scripture? I find that in the American church’s tradition and mentality that doesn’t understand what happens when we gather together on the Lord’s Day to worship, as Hebrews 4 describes. ‘We have come to Mount Zion!’ Jesus is in our midst more strongly than any other time, when we gather together as His body to worship Him.
I understand you guys probably really needed rest…but that couldn’t be had on a Saturday? Why is it so easy for the ‘church’ to skip church in order to get filled up somewhere away from His body who is supposed to minister to us in times of need? The local body is so important. Being there, in your local body is so important.
So, I respectfully disagree with your sentiment that God wants us to skip church in favor of the lake some Sundays.
Does God still love, and even like you? Of course, since He loved us while we were yet His enemies….but encouraging finding our rest anywhere but in Him, and in His body, the church, I think is against His word.
Thank you for your comment. For over 10 years, I have been a pastor/teaching elder at Tumalo Bible Fellowship. I understand, in a very direct way, your concern that Christians have developed a cavalier attitude about attending the gathering of the Saints. The Scriptures couldn’t be more clear, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some.” It was because we virtually never miss Fellowship that the experience felt odd to my daughter. From time-to-time, a father must make a choice for his family that he deems best. When this happens, our loving Heavenly Father looks down at our weakness, mindful we are mere dust, but does not remove His favor. In addition, the Scriptures are replete with examples of behavior out of the norm which, nevertheless, received the approval of a Good Father who knows how to give good gifts.
But, to your concern, if we are ditching the Church gathering for the next party, or whim, we walk contrary to the Scriptures.
I would say your daughter was spot on. She knew you should be attending Church and you weren’t going because you needed a break. We all do it but I don’t agree with teaching her it’s ok to “deviate a little”. In fact you can’t back that lesson up at all biblically.
Marlo, please refer to the comment to Laurel. Also, I thought you might find it helpful to know that for almost two years, every night without fail, our daughter’ heart and or breathing stopped between 15 and 40 times. This may seem like hyperbole but the monitor kept record of these events, each one of which was followed by us getting up and attempting to get her breathing or her heart beating, again.
In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was comprised of rest – literally resting in your tent. I didn’t have a tent at the lake but we did rest from our exhaustion.
You can read part of my little daughter’s story here: http://matthewljacobson.com/2013/09/23/3-steps-to-triumph-in-your-trials/
It saddens me you where not able to grasp the real lesson that was being taught but I commend you about the fact that you are willing to step outside the box.
I usually am not one to give my opinion on blogs and comments, but I was saddened by the above criticism of your decision and felt compelled to offer my support.
Matt, kudos for doing what was right for your family. Having read a little of your blog, I know that you consistently work to lead them as a godly husband and father. I do not doubt that during this time difficulty for your family, you pointed your children to seek comfort and relief from the Lord, as you also sought such peace.
As a teacher, I understand that sometimes, what children need in a time of intense stress is the opportunity to just be children. Through play, they work out the things they cannot understand and cope with cognitively, and through physical play, their bodies release the toxic chemicals that stress builds up. Having seen children who have gone through traumatic experiences and not been given the opportunities they needed to cope, I can appreciate the significance that a simple choice decision to visit the lake, instead of going to church one Sunday, can have.
The Lord rested on the Sabbath day and requires that we keep it holy, but I do not think that must be limited to sitting in a building with other believers. Although community, teaching, and fellowship are instrumental to our faith, I cannot believe that God was angered or disappointed by your actions to care for your family by going to the lake for a day rest and relief.
There is something incredible about exploring and experience God’s creation that whispers of his character, his power, and his providence. Especially to children. They have the incredible capacity to understand God’s greatness and sovereignty, and to apply what they have learned to the world outside the Sunday School room. They have so much opportunity to teach their parents and teachers about God’s character through their wonder and passion. David often refers to God’s character in nature in his beautiful psalms, and he spent a great deal of his own childhood in pastures, singing songs to the Lord.
In Matthew 2, Jesus points out that the Sabbath was made for man, not the man for the Sabbath. He says this in response to questions about his followers breaking Jewish law by gathering food and “working” because they were hungry. I think this verse applies to your decision to care for your family.
Jesus shows us his character, his grace and forgiveness. He is a good and loving Father who gives his children what they need and does not furrow his brow if we step a toe out of line. His love covers us with grace and gently guides us into his peace, which, I am sure, is just what your children needed on that day.
Thank you, Matt, for your words and example. I hope that, as a community of believers, we can teach our children that God loves us, whether we are sitting in church on Sunday, or sitting on a lake. He likes us for who we are, flaws, weaknesses, and all. And no matter how many Sundays we miss, or how many promises we break, there is nothing we could ever do to change his love.
“23 One Sabbath Jesus and His disciples were walking through a field of grain; as they walked, His disciples grew hungry. They began to pull from the stalks and eat.
24 The Pharisees confronted Him.
Pharisees: Did You see that? Why are Your disciples doing what our law forbids on the Sabbath?
Jesus (turning toward the Pharisees): 25 Do you remember the story about what King David and his followers did when they were hungry and had nothing to eat?
They said nothing, so He continued.
Jesus: 26 David went into the house of God, when Abiathar was the high priest, and ate the bread that was consecrated to God. Now our laws say no one but the priests can eat that holy bread; but when David was hungry, he ate and also shared the bread with those who followed him.[b]
27 The Sabbath was made for the needs of human beings, and not the other way around. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even over the Sabbath.” Matthew 2:23-27
Thank you, Jen, for your encouraging words and balanced perspective. Perhaps I could have helped people understand better how committed I am to the gathering of the saints, having lead a local Church for over 10 years. More of the backstory might have been helpful, as well. But, hopefully the comments above will help, as your’s certainly does.
Comments are closed.