In the last month, each of my four grown kids asked me for advice: one asked about buying a camera lens, one about the best way to help a friend, one about dealing with his boss, and one about buying a dishwasher. It is so much fun, connecting with my kids when they ask for advice rather than disconnecting from my kids when I offer it unsolicited.
But this last week I talked with a grown man, about the same age as my kids, who asks his father about every decision he makes: where to work, what to say to unreasonable people, and even where to take his friends to lunch.
One of my kids (the sneaky devil) once told me he asks for advice because he then feels more free to disregard it. And he’s right. When he asks and then does something else, I’m perfectly fine. At least I felt heard.
But the man I talked with last week seemed to have an excessive reliance on his dad for approval and identity. When he asks for advice, he literally lives out the phrase, “Your wish is my delight.”
It felt kind of weird. Isn’t he a grown man? As far as I could tell, he was smart, respected (though not always liked), and spiritually mature. His relationship with his dad felt codependent.
That codependent kid is Jesus.
Imagine a grown, thirty-year-old man saying things like:
- I can do nothing by myself. I only do what I see my Father doing.
- The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.
- I came down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
If you were a counselor, what would advice would you give him? My inclination (totally unsolicited, of course) would be to tell him to “Get a life.”
Yet he is the one telling me to get a life; and he tells me how to find it.
We Are Child-like
When God describes the patriarch Job, he says, “There is no one in all the earth like my servant Job.” Yet when Job questions what God has allowed in Job’s life, God interrogates him:
Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? … I will question you! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … Can you take charge of the lightning bolts and have them report to you for orders? (from Job 38)
The richest life we long for is found wholly and solely in being child-like before God. Dependent even. Not that we reject maturity, but that we understand that in the highest peaks of our greatest moments of maturity, we are still childish before God.
As human children, we begin wholly dependent on our parents, and we grow into healthy independence. As spiritual children, we begin wholly independent of God and we grow into holy dependence. John Newton once wrote:
Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before,
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more.
To see the law by Christ fulfilled,
And hear his pardoning voice,
Transforms a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.
God’s ways are beyond our wildest imaginations. It is precisely in child-likeness, a healthy fear of God bound up in love, that we find the voice of the Father we’ve always longed to hear.
P. S. We may long to hear the Father’s voice, but the Father longs for us to hear him even more than we do. We simply haven’t learned to distinguish his voice from the dozens of other voices we hear throughout the day.
God is the good Father who wants to enter into a divine dialogue with each one of his kids. To grow in that divine dialogue, please watch the video bel0w (Is hearing God normal?), and buy a copy of Hearing God in Conversation.
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