Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lent Day 6: A father's confidence

I grew up with absolute confidence in my father. We kids were thrilled by how he loved Mom and treated her as his sweetheart. He embarrassed us as youngsters when he came home from work and danced Mom around the kitchen to kiss her. "Ooooo, yuck!" we'd scream, covering our faces to hide our happiness and embarrassment.

He has always believed in the potential of others, and conveyed his optimism about what we would accomplish. "You can be whoever you want to be," he communicated, though he is a man of few words.

Each of us children had the freedom to find our diverse callings. We tried all kinds of endeavors, some successful, some not. Through it all, Dad's wise words summed up the experience and encouraged us. I got fired from a summer job as a food server, and came home in humiliation. Dad shrugged it off with, "Well, I guess God hasn't called you to be a waitress, has he?" That settled down my wounded pride and squared my shoulders for the next task.

My younger brothers have a definite flair for their jobs: the youngest, a computer consultant, works from his office in Canada for a British firm. The middle brother, with a high people IQ, makes everyone feel welcome and included, working as a successful and sought-after realtor.

My oldest brother and I are officially in ministry, though not in the traditional sense. He wanted to do music, and nothing but music. He learned to play one instrument after another, loathing his post-high school job at a building supply and running a thriving retail business into the ground. When he heard God's call, he bought plane tickets dated seven weeks hence, picked up his wife and two kids, and moved to Europe without pledges of support or guarantees. Thirty years of God's provisions later, he continues to compose, arrange music, and design special-events productions. He leads worship in the most creative, missional ways I've ever heard of. His touring "big band" consists of a small cadre of volunteer musicians who play in towns where churches are dying and need renewal or where churches are being planted. Local musicians (often professionals) join the team to play his big band arrangements of World Music. The audience, whether in taverns, theatres, town squares, or churches, sing and dance along, opening their hearts to stories of the gospel and God's love ("testimonies," between songs.) The IHS Orchestra has traveled the globe, including Africa, Cuba, Israel, and Europe.

I learned early that when God called, the only answer was, "Yes, please speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." My father taught me what Jesus' father taught him: a father who believes in you invests his character, resources, and confidence in his children.

Our heavenly Father can be trusted to take care of the details of provision and care, leading us from one place to the next. In the process of maturing us for Kingdom service, he may lop off beloved appendages that are unhelpful to the missio dei. He may place us into hard schools to train us and shape our gifts. He oversees our development, not to control us, but to release us into the freedom of being fully human.

Jesus assured us that God responds to our needs and knows what is best for us and for his whole Family: "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:9-11)."

Today, our Father in heaven has confidence in us. But do we have total confidence in him as our parent—who knows us, believes in us, and calls us to tasks impossible to do without his help?

Has he called us to life and ministry that seem beyond our capability? Perhaps he knows things about us as his children that we haven't yet recognized or accepted. Let's trust him completely, as a child trusts a good father (someone like my dad!)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing the personal testimonies in this post to your blog! It is just what I needed to be reminded of today!