“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.
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