Gifts From a Good Daddy
When ever my son is gone, spending time with his mother, I obviously miss him. He’s never gone for too long. Three days is the most he’ll ever be away from me at a time, and that rarely happens.
However in my recent past I’ve been buying small presents that await for him at home. I don’t know why. I didn’t plan to start this. I guess a loving father just likes to provide good gifts for his children. I like seeing him get excited and jump for joy over the smallest, insignificant toy, assembled in a sweat shop in some far off land.
I didn’t intend to start this, or to even make it a routine. It just happened. It was simply produced out of my nature as a father who loves his son.
I didn’t notice the routine of it. But he certainly has began to notice, and dawned on me the other day that he has grown to expect a present upon returning home. I had purchased two cars from the Disney Store to add to his growing collection of die-cast cars that daddy won’t let him play with outside.
I had the cars waiting for him in a spot that he was sure to stumble across. Like always, I was excited for the moment that he would finally discover his new gifts. But then he said something that made me re-think the whole situation.
The first thing he said when he walked through the door was, “Do you have a prize for me?” That was the first words out of his mouth.
He didn’t say, “Daddy! I’m so glad to be home!” or “Daddy! I missed you!” It was “Do you have a prize for me?” I didn’t take time to explain that regardless if I did or not, technically it is a gift, not a prize. A prize implies that you did something to earn it. But I let that thought go; it was neither here nor there.
All of the sudden, I didn’t really want to give the cars to him anymore. The joy of giving him a gift lost its luster when ever he came to expect it. All of the sudden I wasn’t a loving father who gave great gifts to my son, but I was a sort of vending machine where he thought, just by his coming home, it was time for me to dispense my gifts. Or I was like a safe, and the correct combination to getting what he wanted was his coming home from his mother’s house. So long story short, I distracted him and hid the cars. They are now in my kitchen cabinet right next to the whey protein and my Neti Pot.
My plan isn’t to keep the cars from him. In fact, its hard for me not to give in and give them to him. But my attitude is simply this:
I enjoy giving good gifts to my son because I delight in his pleasure. I want to do more but I can’t when the gift looses its luster because he has come to expect it, or at least figured out a way to get what he wants from his father.
I think the way God deals with us is exactly the same way.
I know that God wants to bless us. He delights in our pleasures. He wants to take care of us and for us to trust in him. One can almost open any random page in the Bible and find a verse that supports this. We are his children and he is our Father. And because we are not involved in some kind of religious institute that allows access to God, but we are actually in a loving, give-and-take relationship, we are safe to treat our relationship with God as exactly that; a relationship with a good Father.
I think we, as Followers of Christ, spend far to much time trying to figure out the right buttons to push in the big vending machine in the sky. God blesses us once, in a certain way, and lo and behold we think we have God figured out. We think that every time we do A then God has to do B.
Serve here. Read this plan. Cuss less. Pull the lever. A prize drops out.
People all over the world receive good gifts from God, whether the gifts are physical or spiritual in nature, and after receiving these gifts, they package the “combination” and sell a bunch of books entitled 10 Steps To Twisting God’s Arm.
Jesus healed people in many different ways. Sometimes he laid hands on them. Sometimes he simply yelled into a tomb for a dead man to stop being dead. Sometimes he wasn’t even in the same town as the afflicted when he healed them. God deals with his children in totally different way. It is absolutely ridiculous, and anti-biblical to assume that the way God blessed one is the same way that God blesses everyone.
I imagine the blind guy that Jesus healed by spitting in the dirt and rubbing mud in his eyes, if he were alive today, could write a best seller, The Healing Power of Mud: How a little spittle and a little dirt changed my life and can change yours.
Or maybe God allows a certain method of ministry to produce great results. Tons of people come to know Christ because a church or ministry did A and God did B. Well, now that they know what buttons to push to achieve fruit, they can put their whole faith in the system itself.
I think every time we think we know some systematic way to unlock God, he changes it up the combination.
I can imagine he’s looking at us thinking, I want to bless you. I want to surprise you. I want to give you great gifts. But just like when I pulled back on giving my son gifts when he came to expect them, God pulls back because we’ve lost the relational aspect of it.
We’re not as excited to see God anymore. We’re only excited about what God can give us.
After we lose the relationship aspect, God doesn’t become a loving Father who delights in his children’s happiness; he becomes a vending machine in the sky, and if one presses the right buttons, he’ll give up the goods.
Let’s try really hard in finding our happiness by just knowing and loving our good Daddy. Maybe he’ll surprise us with a gift when we walk in the door. Maybe he won’t. But when our delight comes from simply knowing and worshiping him, at that point, does it really matter?