Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why Don't We Ask Our Father For Help?

We can always call on our Father for help, but many times we just don't do it.

I was reminded of this when a friend recently posted an old picture on a social media site.  It was  the statue of a Native American that was used to advertise beer on top of a building in a city near where I grew up. It reminded me of the day I first saw it.

It was a hot, August day. I was four-years-old and not feeling my best. My mother had an eye appointment in that city, so her mother-in-law, my grandmother, drove. My sister and I knew this meant we were in for an uncomfortable ride. Grandma didn't like having the windows down or the air conditioning on in the car. The heat was getting to me.

"Why is Grandma driving?" I asked my sister.

"Because the eye doctor is going to put drops in Mommy's eyes and she won't be able to see after that," she responded.

I was horrified! What kind  of doctor would do such a thing? Why would we go through with this? What kind of power did this evil doctor have that could force us to drive all that way and allow him to make our mother blind?

"We've got to go back, Grandma," I declared.

"No. You should have gone before you left. It won't be that much longer and we'll be there. Your mother has an appointment and we've got to get her there on time," she said.

Why were we cooperating? Why wasn't she making an effort to help my mother escape the clutches of the evil doctor? Why didn't someone call the police? I could not understand the lack of effort, the nonchalance. It was up to me to find a way to save my mother's sight and time was running out.

We dropped Mommy off at the doctor's office. Grandma parked the car around the corner and we started walking to a jewelry shop to drop off a broken watch. On the way, Grandma pointed out the big Indian statue, hoping that would make me stop fidgeting for a few minutes.

It didn't. On top of being upset, I wasn't impressed with the downtown. The air was putrid in the days before emissions control standards.

"Why does it  smell so bad here?" I asked.

"There are lot of furniture factories in town, like the one your father works in. He works down on that street," she said.

"Where is Daddy's factory? We have to go see him right now!" I said.

She probably thought I was acting like a spoiled brat, but I was desperate to get to him. If I could find him here in this city, he could save Mommy. He was big and strong! There was no way HE would let the doctor hurt her!

"We can't go see your father now. He's working. We're going to go have lunch with my sister Mabel and her daughter, Jean."

I thought about making a break for it a couple of times (not knowing Daddy was five miles "down that street"), but my older sister and grandmother had a death grip on my little hands.

The heat, the factory air, and the distress were making me sicker. By the time we got to Aunt Mabel's, I couldn't eat a bite. Cousin Jean, a pleasant, but unrefined woman, lit a cigar. I felt very green and started to cry.

"What's wrong, Sweetie?" Aunt Mabel asked.

"I just want my Daddy. The doctor is going to put drops in Mommy's eyes and she won't be able to see," I said.

My great aunt answered, "I know, Sweetie. That's why Grandma is driving. You'll see Daddy in a couple of hours."

Why didn't anyone care about poor Mommy? Why were tuna sandwiches more important than getting help from Daddy? What was wrong with these people? I just stretched out on the couch, turned toward the back and whimpered.

"I think she's sick," said my sister.

The others finished their lunch and we headed back to the downtown, too late, I was sure. What would it be like to have a blind mother?

We arrived at the front of the building where the eye doctor's office was and Mommy was standing on the sidewalk with a bag  in her hand. Amazingly, she got right into the car without assistance!

"I'm sorry we're a little late, dear," said Grandma. "We got to visiting and time got away from us. We should probably go right home. Our little girl is sick."

Mommy looked right at me and said, "I'm sorry you don't feel good. Look! While I was waiting, I went into Murphy's to get some lunch. I walked past this doll and thought she looked just like you. She even has the same name as you!"

"You can see me?"

"Not very well. Everything is still a little blurry, but it will wear off in a couple of hours," said Mommy.

"I thought you were going to be blind forever!"

"No! The drops only last a little while. The doctor wouldn't make me blind. He's just going to give me new glasses. I guess we should have explained things a little better," she said.

My sister just rolled her eyes.

I took the new doll out of the box. She did look like me. Somehow the new doll smell counteracted the factory smell and I managed not to throw up until we got home. Afterwards, I curled up on a chair with the new doll and my security blanket.  I was there when Daddy got home.

"Did you have a good time with my Aunt Mabel today?" he asked.

"No, Daddy. It was a very bad day. I thought the doctor was going to make Mommy blind and nobody would let me go find you so you could make him stop."

"The doctor wouldn't do something like that to your mother," said my father. "Doctors make people better, but if he DID try to make your mother blind, I WOULD make him stop."

I wasn't wrong about everything that day. I knew my father would have helped, if I could have just gotten to him.

Isn't it wonderful that we don't have to go through anyone else to get to our Heavenly Father? We can boldly go to Him any time, any place. Yet, so often we just don't ask. Maybe we haven't made a habit of it yet. Maybe we try to handle things on our own.

Maybe we don't really trust Him.

Maybe we are afraid He will answer our prayers in a way we won't like. Sometimes that's hard to accept, but His answers are always in our best interest and in the interest of His plan.

We can have confidence that our Father hears us and does what is best.

Romans 8:28 reminds us, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

It says in Luke 11:9-13:

9 "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

11 If a son asks for bread[a] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?

12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?

13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!"

- (NKJV)

What stops you from going to your Father for help?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Are you customizing your God?

Even in these tough economic times, we can get anything we want just about any way we want it.

We pick out the color and options for our cars, create internet radio stations that play only the music we like, and cover our wounds with bandages bearing our favorite cartoon characters. Our pillows and mattresses are made of memory foam that recalls our shape in order to make us more comfortable. 

We have become accustomed to customizing just about everything. It's no small wonder we try to customize our God.

Relativism  - the idea that there is no absolute truth - has become firmly entrenched in our culture. This is contrary to scripture. In John 14:6. Jesus clearly states, " "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Yet, many Americans will say there are many paths to God and that people should choose the path that is right for them. We feel we have the right to be accepted just the way we are and we will shop around until we find the church or the religion which presents a god that permits us to be who we are. After all, we have a right to be this way and, well, God made us this way, right?

Some people confuse a church's lack of acceptance of them with God's lack of acceptance of them. Others have tried to be "Christian" by their own power and found they just couldn't be good enough. They customize His attributes to their liking or shop for a new sect or new religion that tells them they don't have to change. What they are really doing is trying to make a god in their own image - or change God instead of letting Him change them.

When we think this way, we are doing God and ourselves a big disservice.  God does love and accept us just as we are -- but He also wants to change us. He wants to make us more like Him.

That can happen when we allow God to change us - by His power. When we do this, we allow God to work out His perfect plan for our lives.

So what do you think is better, customizing your god or letting God customize you?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rebuilding and resistance

Sometimes we just don't want something fixed, but our Father has other plans.

When my uncle was emptying my grandparents' house, he called my parents and asked if there was anything we wanted to keep. I could only think of one thing - an old, broken down rocking chair.

It was made before the Civil War and was an absolute wreck, even when I was small. It was painted a color only found in a sick baby's diaper. The boards on the seat had all come unglued. I remember rocking in it during Sunday dinners and pinching the back of my little legs. Despite its condition, I loved it because it was just the right size and made the most glorious creaking noise. It sat in Grandma's dining room, between the gas heater and the china cabinet.

I loved rocking and making that glorious creaking sound, it was the sound of being happy at Grandma's. I was the baby and her favorite and everybody knew it. She knew she didn't have long to live and lavished as much attention on me as she could while she could. Needless to say, our short time together had quite an impact.

When the chair arrived at my parents' house 25 years later, I was living 40 miles away. I got there as soon as time off could be had.

Upon my arrival, there was a terrible surprise.

"Oh, that chair was a mess. Your father took it apart and is putting it back together. He's painting it black, like it was when my grandfather had it - not that horrible brown. I don't know why they painted it that color! You'll have a nice chair when he's all through," said my mother.

Well, I didn't WANT a NICE CHAIR. I wanted the chair from memory and was never so angry in all my life.

I wanted my ugly, broken down creaky chair and they ruined it! These were the people that told me that help wasn't help unless somebody asked you to help. I didn't care that building furniture was one of the things my father does best. I DID NOT ask them to help. How COULD they?

Eventually, I cooled off. No, the chair is not like I remember it and that's O.K.

It is so much better. You would never know all the boards had been separated on the seat. You would never know it was once painted sick baby diaper brown. If you're brave enough to sit on it, it doesn't creak.

It is a lovely black rocking chair with some decorative painting on the back - my father's special touch just for me. With love and a lot of hard work, he took a mess and made something wonderful.

I love my black rocking chair now. Frankly, I've got no clue what I ever would have done with it in its previous state.

How often in our lives do we want to hang on to broken, ugly, useless things just because we are attached to them? What would happen if we stopped grasping them, gave them over to our Heavenly Father and let Him do what He does best?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Do You Want From God?

 O God, You are my God; early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied...
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me."
-- Psalm 63:1-8

The psalmist writes of earnestly seeking God - longing for God - because God satisfies the soul.

I want to want fellowship with God that much and I want my motives to be pure, but I wonder if that is always the case. I want my motivation for seeking God to be pure delight in Him, to make myself available as His servant.

It is wonderful just to take delight in God! If I were to be brutally honest, though, I sometimes catch myself trying to make God MY servant. It's as if a token prayer can be dropped into the Great Omnipotent Vending Machine and all inconveniences will vanish, grief will magically disappear, the consequences of bad choices will be avoided, etc.

Lord, purify my heart until all I want is to fellowship with you, become like you, and do all that you ask.