Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. – Proverbs 4:1
When I was four years old my family took a vacation to visit relatives in Colorado. Being very young, I don’t remember all of the details of the trip, but I do remember an interesting exchange I had with my father while swimming. We went to a beach on a lake. Like many public beaches, there was an area roped off for swimming. The ropes marked areas of shallow water, deeper water, and the waters that were off-limits. Being at an age where I wanted to show everyone just how big I was, I told my dad that I wanted to swim out to touch the rope at the edge of the swimming area. With his consent we swam out together, although a more accurate way to describe it would be he held onto me as we swam out toward the rope.
If I were to see that same swimming area today, I would probably be disappointed by how short a distance I actually went, but as a four year old it felt like I had swum a mile. What I do know was that as I approached the rope the water had become deep enough for me to be unable to touch the bottom without being in way over my head. Thankfully that didn’t matter as my father’s arms were keeping me safely on the surface of the water. We finally reached the rope where I victoriously took possession of my prize. I was pleased, but not satisfied. Wanting to show everyone just how big I was and believing that the rope would support me, I looked at my father and said, “Okay, you can let go now.”
I’ll let you guess what he did, but here’s a hint: I’m still alive.
Fathers have an uncanny ability to know what to do, even when their children do not. It’s not hard for me to imagine what would have happened to me had I insisted on doing it my way without his intervention. I am thankful that he ignored my protests and safely returned me to the shore.
Because I can clearly see the benefit of following the direction of my father, it is not difficult to draw the comparison between my earthly father and my heavenly Father. God has given his children many instructions for life; directions for us to follow that will offer us safety, prosperity, and blessings. On the surface it seems simple, do what He says and things will work out. But like most things in life, people have a knack for complication. Like a four year old, we think we can do it on our own. We claim to be capable of doing things on our own. We bristle at the thought of anyone or anything taking credit for our accomplishments and will fight if in some small way we feel something is infringing upon or rights.
It’s basic human nature I suppose. We don’t like it when someone tells us what to do. We feel we are capable of making our own decisions and doing things our own way. But when making any decision, the decision maker must be fully prepared to deal with the full brunt of the consequences that come with the decision. It’s has nothing to do with our rights and everything to do with either subjecting ourselves to the wisdom of others or having the means to pay the full price for the choice. Had I been given my way, my life would have ended many years ago in a lake in Colorado. Knowing better, my dad took away my choice and I am the better for it.
God is our creator, our strength and our source. He provides for us everything we need to live full lives that maximize the blessings He alone can provide. Unfortunately, more and more people reject that notion and feel that they possess the skills and abilities to fully manage their lives. Some compromise the role that God plays in their lives, minimizing Him to be little more than a fairy tale. Other dismiss the notion of God’s very existence with some taking it so far as to mock and ridicule Christians as simpletons and bigots who hypocritically seek to steal the joy of others.
I am frustrated by this for many reasons, but instead of drawing a line in the sand and pick a fight I will choose to follow God’s example and continue to show love to those who disagree. God has not chosen to abandon us. The forgiveness and salvation that comes through the sacrifice of Christ is still as relevant and available to us today as it was 2,000 years ago. Because His offer still stands, I too will continue to seek His will so that I might demonstrate the fullness of the blessings that come through living a life according to God’s will.
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