Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pondering "Favorites"


I was talking with a friend a couple of years ago while we waited for our swim class to begin at the YMCA. Somehow the conversation came to the point where she said, "I don't know about God. I am NOT one of His favorites." I was stunned. You see the One she so coldly and  impersonally referred to as "God," is the One I most often refer to as "Father God." He is my Heavenly Father and I had never considered, to that point anyway, whether or not He had favorites or "played" favorites. 

Okay, so this week I began to ponder this question again. The stirrings began after I left three of my grandchildren last Saturday. My daughter Lolly is the mother of Jacob who will be seven at the end of September and Anna who will be two in November and then in July she gave birth to baby Mary. Trust me...I am crazy about these kids...I love them to pieces and they are only three of a total of eight. At this point in my life I feel truly blessed in the "grandmother" area.

So I love these kids, but the question is, "Do I have a favorite?"
Well, it would certainly appear as if I do. You know that Mary, at just a few weeks old, has simple needs and is only now beginning to smile and respond to those around her. I love to snuggle with her, care for her basic needs and, every week, I am anxious to see how much she has grown. But really, Mary doesn't yet know that I will one day be her favorite grandma.

And then there is Jacob, nearing 7, ready to start full day, all day school. He is busy. He is preoccupied. He barely has time to tell his grandma hello before he is off and running or caught up in whatever it is that has captured his attention for the moment. And, if there are any of his "others" around, like cousin Julia or Lil' Ricki, well forcing a hug and a moment of attention is stretching his patience considerably.

And then there is Anna. When this grandma walks in the door she can't get to me quick enough. She throws herself in my arms and begins a steady stream of conversation. She is learning quickly to know that, she may be "daddy's angel" but she's "Grandma Deb's girl." She wants all of my time and all of my attention. She hasn't necessarily expressed jealousy when I am holding Mary, but she certainly wants me to make room on my lap for her. When I am around even "the momma" (who is probably her favorite person in the whole world) seems to take second place, and she is not above brushing off her other favorites for me, either.

I suppose you can guess how I respond to Anna's overtures of love and affection. And, I suppose, to some, it would appear that Anna is my favorite. But think about it for a moment and ponder why it might just be that someone who feels like, "I am NOT one of His favorites" would come to that conclusion. Consider the responses I receive from these three grandchildren and relate it to how we respond to God.

There are those of us who, like Mary, are infantile in our relationship with Him. It's about our basic needs and not much more. Or we can be like Jacob, busy and preoccupied with other people or other things. Our world teaches self-reliance and all the other "self" stuff.

Now consider Anna's response. Doesn't it make sense that those of us who run into "Father God's" arms, who long to spend time with Him, who are persistent in communication. with Him, who express love and affection in numerous ways....well, no wonder someone would think "I am one of His favorites!" Aren't I? Or does it just appear that way?

I think the bottom line here is this. I believe He loves us all equally, but doesn't it make sense that, if we are responding to God like Anna responds to me, our relationship with Him will be more delightful, more fulfilling and more satisfying...and it might even appear as if we are His favorite? I would love to know what you think.

Reminder from Jacob: On Comfort

Reminders from Jacob: On Comfort
We left early Saturday evening (two of my daughters, Shawna and Lolly, and my grandson, Jacob and I) for the 16-hour drive to Missouri for a wedding.
Lolly had purchased a DVD player that would attach to the headrest on the back of the driver’s seat and brought along all of 2 1/2 year-old Jacob’s favorite movies.
All went well for the first four hours while Jacob watched one movie after another, snacked on all of his favorite treats and played with an innumerable number of toys…his mother was well prepared. And, of course, he had her undivided attention.
Around bedtime we made a “pit stop” and when we got back into the car Jacob grabbed his blankie and pillow and climbed into the back window stating, “I get comftable now,” as he prepared for a good night’s sleep.
To say that he was upset when his mom informed him that he could not sleep in the window, but had to return to his car seat and be strapped in, would be an understatement. He spent the next ten minutes protesting loudly and pouting dramatically, until finally he cried himself to sleep. Ahhh, the peaceful bliss of a sleeping child.
For the next several minutes and throughout the following days, as I pondered that incident and shared it with others, I thought how like Jacob we are, sometimes, with God!
When my five children were small, child car seats were a relatively unheard of commodity. As babies and toddlers, I held all of my children in my lap in the passenger’s seat of the car. I remember them all, at different times, standing in the front seat between us. And climbing back and forth over the front seat into the back was a regular occurrence. I am appalled at the thought today!
Lolly asked me, at one point in the night, when it was so apparent that Jacob was uncomfortable and restless, if I thought it would be alright for her to unstrap him and let him lay on the seat beside her. I could not even stand the thought of him being out of his seat for a few minutes. How would we live with ourselves if anything happened to him because of our negligence?
I continue to ponder the lessons…
Jacob, strapped in a well made child safety seat, was as safe as he could possibly be while riding in a moving vehicle. How like the arms of God! We are invited to rest in Him, to allow Him to shield us and protect us and see us safely through life’s journey. He in the driver’s seat and we along for the ride!
Yet, how often do we pull and tug against the straps, fight against the restraints, fail to yield to the Father’s will? How prone we are to climb out of the safety seat, sometimes even choosing to scurry behind the wheel and take a detour that might be a little quicker or easier and much less restraining!
Or, just like Jacob we want to “get comftable!” And we think we know how to get that way…regardless of what God might have planned, which may even wind up moving us waaaaay out of our “comftable” (and safe) zone!
Jacob, too, struggles with the fact that his mom and dad know what is best for him. At 2 1/2 he is ever so prone to wanting to do things his way, in his time and he wants instant gratification always. When mom or dad say, “no,” the drama begins. Oh Lord, keep ME from willful ways!
Anyway, I keep thinking of lessons to be learned from Jacob…maybe God will speak to you through this, as well! In the meantime, know that He provides the best kind of comfort we need! In His arms we can safely abide.

Reminder from Jacob: On Obedience

It was Jacob’s first “big boy bed.” It didn’t look very big to us, but for him it was a step away from his crib and babyhood. He was excited, after all, this was a whole new dimension of freedom and he loved the Sponge Bob sheets and comforter that his mom and dad had purchased, as well.

But what Jacob liked most about the new arrangement was the arrangement! His big boy bed was strategically placed at the foot of his mom and dad’s bed. The beds were in an “L” formation with about 18 inches between them. Perfect jumping space for a “jumping machine” like Jake.

Well, his dad Mark watched him jump from their bed onto his for several minutes but, after Jacob almost jumped into the wall headfirst, he decided it was too dangerous.

“Jacob,” Mark ordered sternly, “You have to stop that now! It’s too dangerous!” And, as Jacob began to prepare for another jump, Mark said, “Young man, don’t you dare jump again!” Jake looked at his daddy, then he looked at the bed, then he looked back at his daddy and simply went limp and fell like a dishrag onto his bed! (Believe me when I tell you that, sometimes, it is hard to discipline this child without first hiding somewhere and having a good laugh! Do you know what I mean?)

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “How often have I obeyed my FATHER just like Jacob?” Looking for a way around or an easier way or a more palatable way to do the hard thing, the difficult task, that thing which I just plain don’t want to do! So, the Lord reminds me through a 2 year olds antics that partial obedience is not obedience. Half-hearted obedience is not obedience and delayed obedience is not the kind of obedience He desires from me, either. And somehow I don’t think that my FATHER is laughing at my antics!

I do hope HE is pleased with me right now, though. I am getting ready to take the biggest step of my life. I am moving totally out of my comfort zone in every way. I am doing something that I feel is completely beyond my realm of understanding and every time I ask myself, or HIM, why I am doing this, the answer is right there in front of me…Because HE told me to and I have chosen to be obedient! And with that recognition, I have the privilege of falling limply into His arms.

“March on, My Soul, be strong!”

Reminder from Jacob: On Identity

My daughter Lolly couldn’t wait to tell me what Jacob recently said to his “other grandma.” Stacey had asked him whose boy he was and she was delighted when he responded, “Gam-ma’s boy!” “Oh good, I’m glad.” Stacey replied. To which Jacob countered, "Gam-ma Deb's boy!" Then Stacey had a good laugh at her own expense.

I am glad she thought it was funny, I hope I would have been as gracious if Jacob told me he was “Gam-ma Stacey’s boy!” See, I have trained him well, from his very first days I have told him he is “Grandma Debby’s boy.” He has heard it hundreds of times. He knows what he knows!

And I know what I know. I know “whose girl I am!” I am my LORD’S and HE is mine. What a glorious day that was for me when I began to understand who I am in Jesus Christ and just exactly what that identity means for me. To know that my identity in Christ is something no man, teenager or toddler can take away from me, saw me through the most difficult years of my life.

I know, as well, that in my ministry to individuals, it has been one of the primary truths that I have attempted to convey to hurting people. If only we, the Body of Christ, could consistently see ourselves as Christ does. If we could daily see ourselves as HIS Beloved, as Shining Stars, as the Sweet Aroma of Christ, as Joint-heirs, a Chosen People, a Royal Priesthood, a people belonging to God…if we truly believed and lived moment by moment as HIS Salt and HIS Light, oh how different our lives would look!