I’m the oldest of 4 children, and we were ages 11, 9, 7 and 5 when dad left our family.
One kind of respect
Because I am the oldest I have memories of my dad that my brothers and sister don’t. Their memories are few and far between, fuzzy with just a few clear moments burned into their memory.
That’s how many view the Father God – fuzzy with just a few details. Their respect for Him is more from the fact He is God, than based on remembering how He walked through life with them.
I remember wrestling with dad, our dog ‘Patch’, and my brothers, all in a mass of turning, grabbing, laughing action until we were sweaty and the dog was so wound up he would run around the house from one end to the other. They recall those times only vaguely, if at all.
I remember watching dad fix the riding lawn mower used to cut the grass on our nearly 3 acres, helping him as a young boy by holding a wrench, handing him pliers and the like. I was there when dad sliced open the little finger on his left hand and then watched him take a needle and thread and with one hand sow up the flesh without anything to deaden the pain. My brothers and sister don’t remember any of that at all.
He taught me how to shake hands, shine shoes, tie a tie, look a person in the eye when greeting them, and more. My brothers and sister have none of those memories, so my respect for dad is different than their respect for him because they didn’t walk through life with him while I did.
Enter the heavenly Father
With each life-lesson my love and respect for him grew. This is part of the difference between a child playing with the Father’s gifts like a kid at Christmas, or honoring God for being God: A mature person remembers their Father’s time with them, while a child doesn’t remember either by choice or immaturity, or they haven’t yet lived long enough to have a history with their Father.
Because my dad and I have that history of fixing lawn mowers and tying ties together and such, when he left and I got to know my heavenly Father at age 16, the Father picked up where my earth-dad had left off.
One day I was fixing that same lawn mower dad and I had worked on, but this time it was just me looking at it not knowing what to do, feeling the weight of the world for I had 3 acres to mow and mom depending on me. I started asking Father what was wrong, and for wisdom, and I distinctly heard, “Look a little closer, a little deeper. A bolt has come loose and you’ll find it if you look harder.”
So I did just that – I got dirty, scraped my knuckles, but with a twist of my head down into the bowels of the beast, I saw in the shadows a bolt whose nut had fallen off – a replacement was found and the lawn mower was fixed. I said ‘Thank you Father’ and started on the grass. He has rarely told me specifically what is wrong, but rather points me in the right direction and lets me figure it out from there. (Same in life I’ve learned)
Now I’m an adult and I still ask for His help fixing things or any decision in life. We have a history of walking through life together, and He has my respect and love and honor for walking so faithfully with me. Holding the memories of His activity in our lives with continual appreciation in our hearts, causes Him to respond to us just that much more again.
The grace given to you
I can only share the grace given to me, but you too have had times where you know the Father gave you wisdom, provided when there was no provision, walked with you through valleys. It is the act of calling to remembrance those events that form a foundation upon which a base of honor and respect for Him is built.
Consider your miracles
After Jesus had just fed 5,000 men plus women and children, then in the early morning walked on the water to the disciples and calmed the wind and the waves, Mark observes: “And they were astonished beyond measure, for their hearts were hardened because they did not consider the miracle of the loaves.” Mark 6:52
Notice – their hearts became insensitive and dull to the things of the Spirit, which is to say hardened – “because they did not consider the miracle of the loaves.” Do we stop to consider His miracles in our lives?
Just 2 chapters later the story is the same. In Mark 8:14-21 Jesus has just fed 4,000 people, but the Pharisee’s demanded He do another miracle. When they were out on the lake Jesus began commanding them to watch out for the ‘yeast’ of the Pharisees and of Herod. The disciples, realizing they had forgotten to take bread, thought Jesus was upset because they had forgotten that little detail.
But Jesus asked: “Why do you discuss the fact we have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened (dull, insensitive) heart? When I broke 5 loaves for 5,000, how many baskets of broken pieces did you pick up?” They said, “Twelve.” “When I broke the 7 for the 4,000, how many large baskets of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” And He said to them, “How is it you don’t understand?” In the Greek it is literally, “How is it you haven’t put it together?”
Notice in both cases how their hearts became hardened, how they became insensitive to the Spirit – They witnessed miracles in their lives but never stopped to consider them. They never took time to ‘put it together.’
Children see a miracle or other manifestation of the things of God and think ‘a new thing to play with’. Spiritual adults stop to consider the miracle, consider the faithfulness of the Father, consider with awe the fact that the Creator and God of the universe lives in them, and walks with them through life.
A spiritually mature person purposely looks at how the Father has walked with them through life, even if some of those memories seem a bit fuzzy – still, they know He got them through. A spiritual child who could grow, chooses instead to stay a child by not stopping to consider the miracles.
So many people want to be sensitive to the things of the Spirit, yet they’ve never considered a key element to this maturity is to stop and consider the miracles He has done in their life. When we become sensitive to see and consider our own ‘miracle of the loaves’ in the past, it sensitizes us to miracles present.
A child receives the gift with no clue what that gift costs, while a mature person realizes there was sacrifice and expense in the providing of the gift and honors it and the Giver accordingly. May the body of Christ grow up into maturity.
Next week a new but related topic – The body of Christ or the Bride of Christ? Is there a difference?