So I finally gave in and bought our girls a puppy. I stood strong for nearly a month, refusing to have our lives complicated by anything else that created more bodily fluids I might have to clean up.
But no hard heart could resist my little 5 year old sitting on my lap and cooing, “Can I have a puppy, Daddy?”
No contest. Game over. Bring on the poop.
It’s a little beagle puppy, and, of course, I’m getting stuck doing most of the potty training. But with our girls a little intimidated at first, I’ve had to lead the way in teaching them how to play with our new little Blondie.
So I got on the floor and let the dog lick my face. I played on the puppy’s level, and proved to the girls she wouldn’t hurt them when she playfully gnawed on their fingers.
While I was doing all this, I remembered something I’d almost forgotten…how to play!
I’ve never been much for games, really. Wasn’t a team sports guy and always took competition a little too seriously to ever have any fun.
Nowadays, I’ve got so many responsibilities as a pastor and father, it seems like an irresponsible waste of time to do anything so unproductive. Surely I need to be preparing for something, or thinking through some of the many problems our church faces. No time to goof around.
Except, everything I just described is really a form of idolatry. When I start to think everything depends on me, I’ve actually exalted myself to a place that only God himself deserves.
I’ve usurped the role of savior for my life, my family’s lives, and my church. And God is not pleased when I try to share his throne.
Taking ourselves so seriously is one reason most of us have no peace. Our self-importance is a stark contrast to the child-like trust relationship God designed us for…
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
Had a great discussion with a friend about the priority of sabbath rest and recreation. Craig is a husband, new father and graduate assistant at a local university here in town. He’s about to start a teaching series at a local church and wanted to brainstorm some ideas on the topic. So he stopped by my office for a chat.
But I think instead of helping Craig, he ended up helping me.
You see, I’d had a pretty lousy day up to that point. I’d spent most of the morning worrying about some challenges I face and decisions that need to be made. I’d let it all weigh so heavy on me that by the time of our meeting, I had ruined my day and felt pretty defeated.
But as we talked and Craig reminded me of the Biblical concept of Sabbath rest, God began speaking to me as well. It struck me that one of the main reasons I often don’t have joy is that I’m usurping God’s position in my life as the Responsible Father, when I’m really supposed to be the Playful Child. God commanded us to rest not so we can sit around and watch Netflix all day. He commanded it because we need a regular weekly reminder that it doesn’t all depend on us.
It really takes faith to take a break from thinking and planning. You have to really trust that God has your back and is in charge. Without that trust, you just keep working as if everything depends on you, because in your mind it does!
And walking around hunched over with the weight of the world on you is a posture God never designed you for. Our frame is simply not built to hold it all.
You see, if I really trusted God, I’d be anxious for nothing and have that peace Paul is talking about. I’d realize it’s not my responsibility to fix and make everything happen in my life—that’s God’s role. Mine is to be the obedient child, do what Daddy says, and otherwise run off and play.
It’s when I presume to be the Boss of my life that I lose my peace, because I know I’m not smart enough to decide everything and get overwhelmed. That’s a level of responsibility I was never meant to handle.
And if I don’t shimmy out from under it, all that weight might just crush me.
If your life is complex right now, I know this may sound like I’m asking you to play hopscotch on the deck of the Titanic. You’re too scared to let go of the controls. I know that feeling well. But I’ve realized my control will only make things worse. Only God can steer me away from an iceberg.
My hope today is that you find the peace that comes from letting God be in charge and you be the child. Sure, do what he says, but then leave the rest to him.
If you don’t know how to do that, I recommend seeking the services of a puppy. They can always teach you how to play if you’ve forgotten.