Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Father's Day gifts

Social studies and polls tell us that we all think we’re good drivers, but everyone else could stand some refresher courses – maybe even jail time.
“Could you be more annoying?” I silently fumed, following a clueless driver on my way to work. I would hope the answer from the driver would be, “Oh, sorry, I was chattering on my mobile phone while straddling both lanes at 20 miles per hour, and didn’t realize you needed to be somewhere on time. I’ll pull over and let you pass.” Instead, he suddenly stood on his brakes and blocked the intersection while waiting to make a left turn. I guess he could be more annoying!
It’s amazing how frequently life and limb can be endangered in a short distance from red-light runners, swervers, those who dart out from side streets, and who don’t use turn signals. 

I’m conscientious about the speed limit on surface streets, from concern for pedestrians and animals (plus a healthy respect for the radar-detecting motorcycle cop who lurks there sometimes). But on the freeway, I keep to the fast lane. 

So on the first day of driving a rental car in England, I drove just under the speed limit in the farthest-right lane (center lane on the left side of the road) so more-confident drivers could overtake me on the motorway. I concentrated on being safe, legal, and considerate – a righteous motorist indeed. Yet drivers frowned and mouthed words behind their windows. I finally realized that I was learning British driving in their fast lane. Fellow drivers said, essentially, “Could you be more annoying?” 

Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. Matt. 7:1-5 The Message 

Our heavenly Father has every right to crush us for our faults, even the ones we consider slight. He really is “holier-than-thou,” but you’d never find a critical spirit, or a sneer of contempt on His face. Instead, He sings and rejoices over us, tenderly wipes our tears, covers us with His feathers and bears us on His wings, dandles us on His own knees, runs to meet us and shower us with kisses, holds us in His arms and carries us when we’re weak, shoulders our yoke and burden, has plans for good and not for evil, takes us by hand through danger, is compassionate and merciful and forgiving, and gave Himself for us – not because we love Him, but because He loves us. 

This Father, perfect in every way, created us in His image – the image of a divine Lover. He created the angels to worship and serve Him, but us – just to love and be loved! He created us and He adopted us, so there’d be no mistaking that we belong to Him every perfect way, including dimensions we’ve not perceived. What a wonderful Father. 

Paul exclaimed, This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!  That's why I don't think there's any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. Romans 8:15-21 The Message 
He alone is worthy to accuse and judge us for our faults. He’s the only one worthy to tell us about the dust motes and giant logs in our own eyes. But He doesn’t condemn us (John 3:17, Romans 8:1) or tell us we’re annoying (or bad drivers!), but simply that He loves us beyond our comprehension, and offers us joyful, eternal life in His kingdom, starting here and now. 

Every day is Father’s Day, and the gift from Abba is that He gives the inheritance, the gifts, the love, the realization of His will and word – to us! Such a deal. The children get the goods! 

No one can deny that that’s good news.

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