Being a dad, especially to a daughter who is increasingly asserting
her independence and expressing her preferences, is teaching me a lot
about my own relationship with God. On my better days, there's
nothing on my mind but doing my very best for Jada. But sometimes the
very best doesn't seem that way to her. I might withhold from her a
steaming bowl of delicious food; in her hunger, she doesn't understand
that I'm waiting for it to cool down enough for her to eat it safely.
Every few months or so, I take her to the doctor's, where they poke
her with needles and claw around inside her ear; she can't make the
connection that these painful and uncomfortable things are for her
good. Nor can she figure out why I won't let her walk out into the
street or climb up a rickety piece of furniture.
On my better days, I'm OK with her pushing back, her raging, her
disbelief, because I know she's too young to get it. Of course, when
my patience is spent and my nerves are frayed, I want to yell to her,
"I'm doing this for you!"
And so I resonate with the passages in the Bible when God expresses
His impatience with His people. And I appreciate all the more all the
times in the Bible and in my own life when He is wonderfully patient
and longsuffering and compassionate.
I am in a position to demand my daughter's obedience, no matter what
she happens to want in the moment, because I am responsible for her
and because I know more than her. How much more so for God, who made
us and knows all!
Certainly there are things in my life, in my past, in the world, that
make no sense being true in a world in which an all-powerful and
all-loving God runs the show. Certainly there are days I doubt or
seethe. Certainly there are times when it is healthy and righteous to
rage at wrong.
Now that I am myself a dad, though, I am reminded that just as there
are things my daughter doesn't understand, can't understand, won't
understand for a long, long time, so there are those things for me.
And if I can summon the love, patience, and wisdom to do right by my
daughter, how much more is God fully engaged in doing right by me?
Perhaps it is something I want, but God is preparing something better,
like a steaming bowl of delicious food. Perhaps it is something good
for me, but it hurts at the time, like an immunization shot. Perhaps
it is something that looks appealing but is actually dangerous, like
running in the street.
Jada will one day understand why you can't eat food that's too hot,
why you get immunized, why you don't run into the street. And so I
may eventually have the wisdom and perspective to understand the many
"why's" in my life.
But there are some things I'll never know the answer to, no matter how
long I live or how much knowledge I obtain. Inexplicable, dissonant
things that I can't seem to reconcile with my view of who God is and
what life is for.
For such things, I will have to trust that as I am doing my very best
for Jada, so I have a Heavenly Father who is doing His very best for
me and for this world. It's been a learning process for Jada, that
her parents can be trusted to do right by her. She has a long way to
go. And so do I.