I hope yesterday was a most excellent Father’s Day for all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and father figures out there. These men are such a special and important part of our childhood,adolescence, and adulthood. For those blessed with good fathers and grandfathers, let our thanks go to God. For those whose relationships are not what they would wish, know that our Heavenly Father loves you beyond anything our flawed human souls could ever offer. Today, lift your ear. Hear Him say, “You are special! You are mine! You are loved!””
For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 – NLT
I marched up the steps, threw open the back door, and stomped into the kitchen. My mother turned quickly from her sink full of dirty dishes and stared at me with a questioning look. Before she could utter a word, I blared out, ,”he’s so mean! He wants me to do it perfect! Before she could even respond, I barreled toward my bedroom and slammed the door.”
My father wasn’t being mean. He’s never been mean to me a day in my life. He was trying to teach thirteen-year-old Anita how to drive our new Yamaha 100 motorcycle. We were working on mastering the hand clutch and smoothly shifting gears. It wasn’t going well. In fact, it was going so poorly that my frustrated teenage self had thrown up my hands in a true Southern girl hissy fit and stormed off, leaving my dear daddy holding up the bike and wondering what had happened to his sweet little girl.
No, he wasn’t being mean. In fact, he was extremely patient. It was me who was acting impatient.
Dad was trying to teach me. He wanted me to learn to perform the maneuvers correctly. He was trying to get me to understand the best way, not from some sense of stubborn perfection, but for my protection.
Performing the task properly would mean that I would be able to safely steer the motorcycle. I needed to follow my father’s instructions. My impatience and my stubborn pride was getting in the way. I was frustrated with my inability to immediately perform the skill, and in my frustration, I threw in the towel, and I blamed my daddy for it.
This little scene played out in the drama of my teenage years, but it occurs to me that the scenario has played out many times since, not so much with my father, but with my Heavenly Father. How many times has my Heavenly Father asked me to step out in faith and take on something new? How many times did I argue with Him that I couldn’t do it? I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t well equipped for what He asked me to do. I wasn’t certain I could finish what He asked. I was afraid to even try.
It was easier to sulk in the corner or slam the back door than it was to actually try and do what The Lord was asking me to tackle. It was easier to hang onto my stubborn pride than to grasp His Hand and trust Him with the problem and the solution. It was easier to scream “I can’t” than it was to say “Here I am, Lord, send me.”
I could quotePhilippians 4:13 to myself, but it was much harder to actually believe it. I could attest to my faith, but I didn’t always choose to stand on it. I let the wishy-washy human nature rule, rather than clinging to His Hand and allowing Him to equip me for the rough road ahead.
Dad was trying to teach me how to steer that motorcycle, how to shift gears easily and correctly. He wanted me to do it smoothly, so that ultimately, I could do it safely. Before I was able to take that motorcycle out on my own, I had to be able to demonstrate all the required tasks proficiently. Dad was protecting me, preparing me for the potential hazards that lay on the road ahead. He wanted to be sure I could avoid the potholes and speed bumps. Dad couldn’t take away the obstacles I might face on the highway. He couldn’t be there to help me every time I faced a challenging situation, but he could equip me with the skills to navigate those challenges. If I was well prepared, then maybe I could survive the ride, and hopefully even thrive despite the unforeseen roadway hazards I might encounter. If I was properly prepared, then I could be kept safe from harm.
There are roadblocks, speed bumps, crazy twists and turns on the road we travel in this life. God doesn’t always choose to take away those hazards when He sets us on our course. Instead, He seeks to teach us the best way to travel. He equips us with the skills we need to master The obstacles, and He takes a seat behind us as we go.
Sometimes when things go wrong, we get mad at God. We think that He is being mean to us. Why would He let this happen? Why won’t He take this away? Why does He make us go through this over and over again before we can move past it? Why? Why? Why?
But the truth is that God isn’t being mean to us when He lets the hardships of life run their course. God isn’t trying to make us fail, or to keep us stuck in suffering. We live in a fallen and sinful world where things go wrong, and bad things happen to good people. God doesn’t just hand us the motorcycle keys and tell us to figure it out. He takes the opportunity to use those hard circumstances to teach us, to equip us with the skills we need to navigate. Better still, He climbs on the back of that motorcycle with us, handing us a helmet of protection, and rides right behind us, His strong and fatherly Hands fully encircling us as we go.
Like my father, God doesn’t always save us from the struggles. Sometimes, He lets us struggle so we can learn how to do things right. Sometimes, He lets the hard things teach us, transforming us into the people He created us to be. Always, always and forever, God works all things together for our good, even those things we wish He would just take away.
That wasn’t my last motorcycle riding lesson. Dad and I would have many more of those lessons before I mastered all the skills to steer that motorcycle safely. My dad was such a patient teacher, even when I must have hurt his feelings as I fussed at him in frustration. He let me fuss, and then, he patiently showed me again how to master the clutch. We went over it again and again and again until I got it right. My smile was a mile wide when I finally performed the gearshift movement perfectly and drove across the field. But my smile couldn’t match my dad’s. He was grinning so broadly I thought it might stretch his face.
What is God trying to teach you today? What struggles is He trying to show you how to navigate through? Will you throw up your hands in frustration or let Him lead you through it? Either way, you have to live through the hard stuff. Isn’t it much easier to let The Lord lead you and learn from Him how to do it right?
Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.
John 14:23 – NLT
O heavenly Father, we praise You for the blessing of loving fathers and grandfathers. We have learned so much from the good men who have filled a faithful fatherly role in our lives. For those whose earthly fathers have not met their needs, we thank You for always and forever being the Father who will love them and never disappoint or turn away. No matter our individual stories, You remain our Father who leans down and patiently guides us to do it right. Even as You teach us, You whisper continually, ”You are special! You are mine! You are loved beyond compare.” O Lord God,how gracious You are to us. We can turn to You for anything. Thank You, Father!
In the Faithful Name Of Jesus, we give thanks and praise,