Wednesday, April 15, 2020

As Many Blessings as It Takes

We have a nightly ritual in our family of singing a blessing over our girls as we tuck them in and say good night. It’s a beautiful part of our bedtime routine that I look forward to each evening. But, simultaneously, by that time in the day I’m ready for them to be asleep and anxious for some time to myself and with Mandy.

Which is why this time of blessing can also be obnoxious—because, in her tiredness, Peyton often forgets that we’ve already sang her blessing and begs us to sing it again. It’s been a long day, I too am tired, and I can’t wait to get out of that room. So, I often find myself annoyed and upset when this happens, reluctant to have to sing for a second time.

This happened again tonight. But this time, as I was frustratedly rushing through the song for the second time, I found myself thinking about what was actually happening: I was irritated about getting to sing God’s blessing over my daughter. How strange for a father to be annoyed about that!

And I found myself thinking about God—about our Father who sings blessings over us—who looks down upon us and declares the same thing He did about His son Jesus: this is my beloved child, with whom I am well-pleased. I found myself thinking about God the way Jesus depicts Him in the story of the Prodigal Son, as a Father who runs to his wayward son, embraces him wildly, and blesses him profusely, regardless of what he’s done.

Can you imagine God responding to us the way I often do to Peyton—with frustration over getting to re-bless her? Of course not! Our God created us in His image, sees us as very good, and is anxious to sing blessings over us…as many times as it takes.

So, may you truly know how God sees you—that he loves you dearly and cherishes you as his beloved child. May you hear his song of blessing over you. And may the Lord bless you and keep you, make his face shine upon you and give you peace.

[and God…please help me be more patient as a father…
and to cherish the opportunity to bless my children]

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Lost and Found

Over the last few weeks—and really all the time—I’ve been inviting our church to be aware of God’s presence in our lives. He’s there—scripture assures us of that—so we simply need eyes to see and ears to hear where God is and what He’s up to. I’ve been challenging us to recognize, remember, and share about those moments of divine encounter.

And this week…I most certainly have a story worth sharing.

On Saturday afternoon, my family loaded up the car and headed to the church for a few hours of final preparations for Sunday. And like we often do, we brought with us our dog, Annie. [#churchdog] When we arrived at the church and opened the car door, Annie ran over to the building. But somehow, in the process of carrying a load of things and getting all four humans inside the church, Annie must not have entered with us.

So then, an hour and a half later when we were preparing to leave, I asked everyone where Annie was…and no one knew…or had seen her in the church. She’d been left outside this whole time. At this point we’re freaking out and imagining the worst. We’re running all around the church, shouting Annie’s name as loudly as we can.

But nothing.

So, the girls and I jump in the car to check the neighborhood, while Mandy starts contacting the appropriate authorities.

Still nothing.

It’s been almost 2 hours since we’ve seen her—the girls are crying hysterically, Mandy and I are freaking out, and we’re all struggling to imagine our lives without our beloved dog—but we decided to scour the neighborhood once again. So, we gathered our things from the church and Mandy jumped in the car, but just as we’re about to pull away from the curb, her cell phone rings.

It’s Animal Control…and they think they’ve found our dog!

But that’s where the story takes a strange twist, where I can’t help but see God’s fingerprints. It turns out that the person who called in the missing dog was a woman named Amy and their house is just a block from First Baptist. Well, I happen to know an Amy who lives a block from our church: it was the pastor of the Methodist Church! It just so happens that our dog was found and lovingly cared for by our friends and colleagues from across the alley.

So, our tears instantly turned to smiles, our sadness to joy, and we drove down the street to collect our neglected pup—who was very excited to see us. I don’t know if God caused our friends to find Annie, but I certainly know we gave thanks to God that evening around our dinner table. And I’m confident that God was rejoicing with us as we found our dear pet, because He’s the type of Father who rejoices over lost things being found.