Today, the 4th of July is my father’s 90th birthday. It is hard to he has been alive over 1/3 of the time the United States has even existed!
Two weeks ago, all his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered together to celebrate this special man. Debbie and I flew out first, followed by my daughter, Danielle, and her husband, Jason, while my son, Mike, and his girlfriend, Kendra, left out of Atlanta a few days later and we all rendezvoused in Seattle. On Father’s Day we all drove to my brother’s home for a blessed time of family reunion and celebration. My dad’s face beamed when surrounded by his greatest legacy, his family.
We have made multiple trips to Seattle over the years and every time we go my children gladly accept the offer to stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. And why not? Sure, they’ll be on a hide-a-bed and an air mattress. But Grandma cooks up an endless supply of pancakes or waffles topped with her delicious “Grandma jam”. Grandpa makes sure there is a fresh supply of raspberries (which he used to hand pick himself but hey, he’s 90) to be eaten with breakfast or saved to go on top of the also endless supply of ice cream – all grandchildren need ice cream, right? Even the bath towels are often warmed before shower time. (For reservations please call – no wait, we’ll just keep this bed and breakfast a family secret)
So why do my parents do this for their grandchildren? Is it their “job” or something they are compelled to do as an obligation because they are grandparents? Well, if you could have seen my mother’s eyes this last visit you would clearly and definitively know that is not the case. Every moment of our stay my mother’s eyes were filled with delight. She loved talking with them and listening to them talk with each other; their stories, their laughter, their serious conversations all made her heart overflow with joy. Each time they asked for another waffle or thanked her for the grandma jam she smiled. Now granted, my kids are pretty special (they take after their mother) but my parent’s outpouring of love is not based on what their grandchildren have done or will do. The truth is that Grandma and Grandpa take delight in their grandchildren simply because they are their grandchildren – they love them and want to be with them.
When folks come into the office for ministry I consistently try to remind them that God, also, is a Father who delights in His children. Let me offer a bit of an article written by Lisa Harper in “Today’s Christian Woman”:
“When you study the Song of Solomon from a Christ-centered perspective, it’s about the intimacy available to us in Jesus. We tend to forget the gospel is about a supernatural, mind-blowing relationship with the Lord. Most of us are more comfortable appeasing this Darth Vader image we have of God because we read the Bible as a religious rulebook rather than as an amazing love story. Yet in the Song of Solomon 4:9, God say through Solomon, ‘You have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.’ Think about what that verse says: The God of the universe is enamored with us. That’s huge. We wouldn’t say this in Bible study, but somewhere in our crooked human hearts we assume God loves us because it’s His job. He’s compelled because He’s the Creator and we’re the created. But God delights in us. Yes, God is holy, and we’re to revere Him. But God’s behavior toward us isn’t reserved, rigid, formal. He condescends to make Himself available to us. He runs toward us… He longs for us to come to Him with affection and abandon.”
After the BBQ and fireworks are done today and the week goes back to “normal,” consider giving some time to pondering the “grandmother” like character of our God who delights in just being with His children.