Thursday, April 21, 2016

He Is With Me

If you asked me to pick one person in my life who I didn’t ever want to disappoint, my instinctive answer would be my dad.  He laid down rules for me, with love, and I tried to obey those rules --- especially if he were right by my side. If I were alone, with my friends and they suggested we do something “wrong”, I’d almost always consider their request: I mean, they were my friends.  However, if they made that same request while I was out and about with my dad, I’d almost always NOT consider it.  I’d not consider it because he was my dad, and in my mind I’d much rather please my dad than my friends ---- especially if he were right next to me.  The reason, in thinking on it, was because I respected my dad more, and I didn’t want to disappoint him.
I think, in our youth, almost everyone can point to someone like that, a dad or mom, sibling, grandma or grandpa, and if those weren’t big in our lives perhaps even a friend, who we looked up to and did not want to disappoint.  In growing up we all needed someone to look up to; at one point we were little, and we HAD to trust someone, and God, in His love and mercy, usually put someone there. 
As we matured we all grew in independence. We were blessed with freedom of will, a scary thing sometimes.  It’s kind of like first riding a bike I guess; we’d tell mom or dad:”Don’t let go,” but at some point they’d have to --- and we were glad.  We are the leaders of our lives, but, as I said, most of us still have that one person who continues to be “the one,” our rock, our foundation.  We still look up to them; we still don’t want to disappoint them; we still know they’ll still be there, even if we fall.  And if we’re in their presence, we don’t want to disappoint them --- but we are in their presence less and less.  We are independent; we have freedom, and at some point those anchors of our growing up die.
At the Bible Study group meeting today we talked about how sometimes we sin:  we know the will of God; we respect Him and don’t want to sin, but sometimes we instinctively choose to do so.  In talking about it, we realized that this reactive choice often comes about in protection of our will, our self-interest, and our---in that moment --- forgetting God’s will.  Someone may disagree with our opinion (and we know it is right), and so we instinctively defend it.  Many of us (like me, for example) will forget our manners and interrupt:”Wait a minute, …” and we’ll “politely” explain to the other person why they are stupid.  And we’ll feel good about it --- after all, they were wrong.
In our now fully-adult mind, we have grown up and assumed the role of that person we admired growing up, and likely we think we are acting as he/she would--- and perhaps we are right.  The thing is, however, that this wisdom we are expressing is “earthly wisdom,” and in the small Bible Study group we recognized that there is a greater wisdom ---and Will --- than ours.  We recognized that we now have in our lives a God, a Person we sorely don’t want to disappoint.  And that presented us with a problem:  while with the person we grew up with, in their presence, we’d never choose to disappoint them, but God IS in our presence at all times, so how can we so readily choose to disappoint Him?  Do we really not respect Him as much as we think we do?
I started out this post thinking about my answer to a question posed about “who in my life did I not want to disappoint?”  My answer reflected someone who I looked up to, who taught me right from wrong, who loved me, and I never wanted to lose that love.  I feel that way now about God, but it wasn’t always so. While my parents (or perhaps someone else) were there when I absolutely needed them--- they were just “there”--- but somewhere along my life I CHOSE God to be my best friend, my most important person whom I don’t want to disappoint.
I was greatly blessed in that as my childhood foundations drifted into my past and it was up to me to build on them, I found Jesus and discovered His was a different type of foundation for my life. While dad did the heavy work of putting down a concrete foundation for my life, Jesus is there to complete my life, to put on the “finishing touches.”  He is the skilled builder of mansions of great and everlasting glory.  And I’ve chosen His plans for my life.  All my studies, all my reading, have shown me there is no better builder, and so I choose to follow His plans.  And, like dad as I was growing up, I didn’t want to deviate from the plans Jesus drew.  And I have found something wonderful about Jesus’ plans and my trying to follow them: I sometimes screw up, but He always seems to be able to fix things, and perhaps even make them better!  “Hmmm, you did a sloppy paint job over there, but no problem, we can wallpaper over it. Or, hmmmm, you put in a door where there was supposed to be a window, but no problem, I think we can add on a porch there and it will look great.” And, in a way, His plans for me become OUR plans.  And that is why I have freedom in my adulthood to lead my life as I wish, yes, but in my freedom I choose to follow His will--- at least as best I can.
But that comes back to the Bible Study question:  So why don’t I?  It’s St. Paul’s question again:”Why do I do the things I don’t want to do?”
Perhaps, sitting in the chapel and thinking on that, the answer for today lies in the answer of my youth.  While my friends (the world) may have tempted me in some ways, and sometimes I fell to that temptation, still, when I was in the presence of dad it was much easier to resist their temptations.  I so didn’t want to disappoint my dad, and never to his face; I didn’t want him to be ashamed of me.  I knew he’d never stop loving me, and I never wanted to disappoint him.  I think that is the key to my living the life God has for me, doing His will.  It is so easy to be tempted by the world --- to be tempted by me (!) misusing my freedom ---but if I REALLY don’t want to disappoint God, I will remember that HE IS WITH ME, standing by my side, right now.  How can I do something that will disappoint Him?
That’s the key to my growing in faith, I think, it’s always remembering He is with me, right now.  So when something happens that irritates me, that I want to “explain” to that stupid person next to me, I need to recall that Dad is next to me, and I’ll have to look up to Him after I open my big mouth --- and see His disappointment.  Oh, how I don’t want to see that look in His eyes.
I think the time I spend in the chapel each day has a benefit towards achieving something like that. Perhaps I forget God is with me during the day, and I sin.  But each night I end my day in prayer and recount my day for Him, kind of like those evenings at the dinner table as I grew up, when dad asked:”So how was your day?”  And if I screwed up during the day, often I could get away with a little white lie of omission to dad; I didn’t want to tell him the truth. But here, in the chapel, I have to own up to the truth:  I mean, Jesus was there with me!  No use lying!
And that’s a good thing, my owning up to what He saw me do.  And then perhaps next time I’ll remember that He is next to me, before I have to look up and see that disappointment in His face.
O Lord, you search me and you know me.
See that I follow not the wrong path
and lead me in the path of life eternal
-- Psalm 139


  1. Thanks for sharing this because I know it's an act of bravery for many. I suppose God as our Father holds this same position in life but for me He is so much more than that and my experience will never reveal His greatness to me in this lifetime. That is reserved for the life to come. I lost a parent in 2012 but praise God I know where she went. Again, thanks and God bless you !

  2. Thanks for your comments, Evelyn. I lost my mom in 2013 --- but I talk to her often!