My Fitness

Friday, May 26, 2017

praying to God

I've heard it said that people often develop a sense of who their Heavenly Father is based on who their earthly father is. I've wondered if I also did this. The examples are always of an uncaring and distant earthly father. My dad cared for me was generally nice. He exasperated me and teased me relentlessly and would then be condescending if I believed his lies jokes. But I didn't attribute those ungodly characteristics with God. I thought, then, that I didn't confuse the two.

Then I caught myself in prayer this past week. I was finding that I felt I needed to be very specific because I didn't want God to grant me my request but have it drenched in poison. Do you remember that episode of Twilight Zone The Man in the Bottle? The genie grants the couple's requests with catches to make every outcome worse than where the couple started. One wish was for money but then the tax assessor decides it must have been illegally acquired. The final wish was to be a great world leader and the man is turned into Hitler right before he commits suicide.

That's how my earthly father is. If you ask him for a dollar, he'd say, "How about four quarters?" And then cut a piece of paper into fourths - viola! Four quarters! of a piece of paper. Asking my earthly father for anything was met with sarcasm and catches. Sometimes he was outright and unexpectedly generous. He has more than once filled my car with gas when he went to move it out of the way of his car, for instance. If he were visiting I can bet that I will come home at least once to a very clean dining room or living room or both!

But if I ask him for something, I get nothing. If I expect something from him, I get worse. It's very backward. I never understood Luke 11:11-12 (What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him scorpion?). As a 7-year-old I confronted my father with Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4 about how fathers are to treat their children. The NIV which I was reading at that age said "do not exasperate your children". I asked why he did this. Why tease me to tears and watch me get so angry about not knowing all the double meanings until I gave up talking to him? He said that isn't what the verse meant but couldn't tell me what it did mean. It's because that's exactly what it meant.

Now I have to remind myself that God is not like that. He's not trying to "get me" or to throw out catches with my granted request. If I ask to live at the beach, he's not going to say, "Wish granted! Now you're a homeless person and your children are taken by CPS and your husband is dead." That's not how God works. He's going to work for my best. If he doesn't grant my request, he will still be with me. He's not playing a game. He isn't teasing me or testing me to see if I can see every outcome of my words. He knows that I am not all-knowing. He isn't going to treat me as part of the god-head Trinity. He knows that I am a child. I do not have either because I do not ask or because I ask selfishly; not because he's cruel and not because he enjoys watching me squirm.

So I pray in peace now knowing that I cannot jinx my prayer and that God isn't waiting for a magic formula of words before he acts. I ask constantly just like my kids ask me for things. I pray without ceasing. I come to the Father like a child because he knows how to give good things. He isn't my earthly father and he isn't a Twilight Zone genie. He is my Good Shepherd.

[I guess this is also a lesson to fathers. I no longer ask my dad for anything and rarely talk to him even if we are in the same room because the amount of sarcasm and lack of straight talk is ridiculous. It's childish and immature. Know your children. If your child isn't enjoying your teasing, then stop. Some kids think it's funny. Stop being mean to your kids. It isn't funny unless they are in on the joke. My mother and father would say to me, "Why do we have to change? Why can't you change?" Because I was a child. I was a child acting like a child. I now act like an adult and I am distanced from my parents because of their immature behavior. They were and are adults acting and behaving as small children.]