Experiencing Godliness

Father & Son
Father & Son (Photo credit: jeroenadema)

“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.” Mark 12:27  

I often hear conversations regarding the negatives of having children. The money, time, freedom, and self-denial required to raise them seems too dear for many. Yes, sacrifice comes with parenthood but the losses prove minuscule when compared to the rewards. These fear of sacrifice claims sole responsibility for ending millions of pre-born lives. Much contentious debate has occurred over the last month regarding this matter—due in part to the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

But Jesus proclaimed His Father the God of the living—not the dead. So for now I do not desire more talk about the rights or wrongs of these 55 million plus deaths. Instead lets talk of birth and life, parenthood, and what it is like to experience Godliness. This amazing knowledge (contrasting the cheerless anniversary observed this month) comes from having children.

I certainly do not profess Godhood. And the only claim I have to righteousness came via the blood spilled for me by Jesus Christ. But I have tasted, to the degree humanly possible, what it must feel like to be God.

The first of these experiences came when I saw my wonderful son born. It astounded me how a tiny human being (hidden for nine months) seemed to magically pop into existence. I loved this little extension of myself unconditionally, simply because he came from me. His mother left us later, waving her parental rights, and he became in the truest sense my son alone. In his birth I experienced what God must have felt when he formed Adam in His image and breathed life into him.

The second occurred when I gazed through the nursery window at my firstborn son. An older man noticed my obvious adoring pride. He made eye contact with me and smiled. I simply pointed at my son and the only words I could squeeze passed my swelling heart were: “That’s my son”. I felt what it must be like when God looks upon on those who are His. I experienced what God felt when Jesus rose from the Jordan after being baptized by John.

The third happened when my son, only six weeks old, caught bacterial meningitis. He lay, too still, at death’s door on a little hospital bed. A foam coffee cup covered one tiny foot and the I.V. inserted in it. Dehydration made it too hard for placement elsewhere. There was absolutely nothing I could do for him. I could only hate his hurt and wait for the medicine’s effect. It ripped my heart watching him lie there helpless. Many times I could only look away. I yearned for his safety and prayed the illness was mine instead of his. I experienced what God must have felt as His creation sickened in sin and death. He could not watch His beloved Son suffer through the necessary cure for it. In pain God turned His face away from Christ on the cross.

The fourth occurred when God brought a woman into my and my son’s lives. She took my breath away, accepted my son as her own, and became my wife. I took her to love and cherish and accepted her son and daughter as my own, in all respects my second-born. They have since married and started families of their own. I became a grandfather of a precious little girl through my second son and his wife. Later, I danced with my new daughter at her wedding. Watching her become a beautiful woman that day brought tears to my eyes. I have experienced what God must have felt when he took the nation of Israel as His bride and vowed to watch over her children as His own.

The fifth followed when my firstborn grew into a successful, loving, and god fearing young man. He took a bride for himself and started his own family. I gave the best man speech at their reception. Pride filled my heart and his happiness thrilled me. I loved his new wife as my newest daughter, and saw the seeds of  a wonderful life ahead of them. I experienced what God must have felt when His Son rose from the tomb, took the church as His bride, and ascended in authority.

Children are well worth any “sacrifice” made for them. They are a gift from God that each day continues to unwrap. What I have encountered enhances my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I love Him more because I now understand how He feels and how He loved me first. I could not have encountered these things without my children.  I grieve the millions lost to abortion and the negated chances to grow closer to God through them.

My children and grandchildren will keep providing wondrous samples of what it must feel like being God. Some will bring joy, and some sadness, but I know in each I will continue to experience Godliness.

Note to the reader: It may be grammatically incorrect to capitalize godliness but, in context, I believe it fitting. By using the Omni-adjective—“Godliness”—I do not refer to devoutness, piousness, righteousness, or goodness (I made up “Omni-adjective” too). Each adjective is desirable, but none of us is truly good; so these are ways of action rather than ways of true nature, and each a mere shadow of God’s pure nature. Hence, I use “Godliness” to describe being God not acting as God would or wants us to.

Fear Digs A Tunnel

“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! …” – Romans 11:1

In 1976 Gordon Lightfoot wrote the song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The lyrics pose the question, “Does any one know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?” The answer: It doesn’t go anywhere. Fear blocks our perception of His love.

Fear is a God-given emotion prompting us to fight or flee. It is a survival aid. So we have two natural options to overcome fear. Run from or fight the cause of it. But what happens when we don’t have the option to do either? A sense of hopelessness and abandonment overcomes us.

I interview armed robbery victims who cannot describe the person or even the hand that held a gun on them. Fear eclipses their memory of the robber with the hole in the barrel of the gun. Frank Herbert wrote in Dune that, “Fear is the mind-killer.” While quoted from a work of fiction it does ring true.

When we encounter stressful or threatening situations, it is natural to experience tunnel vision, a sense of time lag, and loss of hearing. We focus on the threat (most often visually) and experience tunnel vision, which blocks our other senses. Law enforcement officers depend on intense training to counter this often-fatal effect.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this in the opening words of Romans Chapter 11. Giving into fear and not keeping our faith in God gives us this feeling of abandonment. However, Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Children of God must train by continued reliance and faith in God’s promises. The difference between being afraid and not depends on having a reason to not. We have a reason not to fear.