Monday, April 16, 2012

God is Most Pleased With Me When.... I Behave?

In 2006, I served on a Federal jury for 5 weeks in Denver.  It changed my perspective by opening my eyes to the world of mass drug trafficking and the broken lives of those who survived in the midst of it's chaos.  As important as this trial was, there was another event that happened during these weeks that drastically changed my life the way an earthquake transforms a landscape in a moment's shaking.

Since I was staying in Denver for the duration of the trial, I was visiting a church on the weekends.  It was Father's Day and fittingly, the pastor preached a message about God - Our Heavenly Father.  At one point, he asked everyone to answer this phrase silently to themselves.

God is most pleased with me when...

I immediately finished the sentence with    ...I behave.  That was an easy answer to produce because it was the way I both thought and lived.  The pastor went on to teach about God's unconditional love for us and how it isn't based on our performance because there is nothing we can do to make Him love us anymore than he already does.  He continued, saying he believed part of our view of God came from our view of our dads.  That's a bunch of physco-mumbo-jumbo, I thought.  But I got to thinking, if I were to answer the question, "Dad is most pleased with me when..." I would have finished it identically - "when I behave."

You see, with legalism, performance is everything!!!  If you are "good" and do "right" then everyone is happy with you - God, your parents, church people.  If you are "bad" and "screw up" then you better get it together so that you can live within their "graces" again, but not until you clean up your mess.

Right there, in the middle of the service, the stopped-up tears from years of frustration with trying to "be good", started to flow.  Usually, I'd of been worried about what people thought but in that moment it didn't matter.  Uncharacteristically, I was unafraid to be that emotional, weeping girl who needed tissues from another lady's purse.  There was no hiding my sobs. The tears were there for all to see and I didn't care.  I felt relieved as I understood for the first time the depth of my Heavenly Father's love for me.  I believed He truly loved me with affection and tenderness.  I needed to hear this!  It melted my heart.

This weekend will always be a sweet memory to me.  Not only did it begin to make it possible for me to understand the grace that I'd been reading about in my parenting book, but it turned my heart toward my dad in a whole new way.  I began to pray that Dad and I could have a relationship that would grow closer and more outwardly loving. Our relationship wasn't an offensive one.  It was more "positional".  He was my dad.  I was his daughter.  Little did I know that God was taking my dad on a journey all his own to that same place. The place of God's Unconditional Love and Grace.  It's in this place, I met my dad before he died.

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