It will be one week ago tonight at 9:58pm that I met my son Patrick for the first time. This time last week It had only been moments since I received a speeding ticket on the way to the hospital to meet Danielle. In the last few hours, as I have had some of the first moments since his birth to meditate on weeks events, I have been struck with four things I have learned about God, faith, and fatherhood.
Messy is healthy. What one quickly learns after they have a child is that they are messy. Things, usually of the liquid persuasion, are frequently exiting through both ends of the new bundle of joy. Doctors however will say this is a good thing, (obviously not continuously). The baby’s internal systems are working correctly when you see the results externally, as unappetizing as those results are.
Faith is messy. When we encounter people who seem like they have it all together, typically we learn that this isn’t the case. The authenticity of someone’s faith is typically observed by their transparency, their brokenness, their messiness. The health of our internal systems, or our faith, is reflected not in perfection but in the beautiful mess that is the human pursuit of God. We live in a broken world. We are not called to cover up our messiness, just to have faith amidst it.
Creators created. I could never have appreciated the imago Dei or the “image of God” in which we are created until witnessing the birth of Patrick. The beauty of God’s creation does not end with his majestic creative work. His fashioning of human beings was just a prelude to the brilliance that is his magnum opus. God did not merely create creations he created creators. The difference is stark. In bearing the image of God we are privileged to continue to create, to write a new chapter in the book of creation, to pursue a new storyline in the narrative that God is telling. We are creators created. We are created to create art, science, beauty, wonder, joy; created to create.
Perfect Parenthood. I have taught and heard messages on the fatherhood of God numerous times. The problem is always, how does one reconcile a broken home, or a broken relationship with their dad and embrace the understanding as God as Abba or Father? I have never understood the answer to that question more than this last week. Our problem is that we try to reconcile God as a “father” of us right now. The truth is, we are broken human beings and thus we are broken parents. I will let my son down in life more times that I want to imagine. It is the reality of being human. And so we try to humanize God’s fatherhood.
When I think of God as my father when I am a teenager means I likely have a lot of conflict with him. God as Father as an adult means I want him to se me as mature, as self-sustaining. God doesn’t see us as these things though, not as a rebellious teen, not as a developed adult. God sees us as an infant: helpless, cold, beautiful not because of our salary or our grades, our clothes or our performance, but beautiful because we are his creation. I have never understood the love God has for me more than in the moments when I look at my son and see his utter dependence on me. My joy is not derived from anything that he does, but simply who he is. That is how God sees us. He dreams and aspires for who we will be come and yet, in no possible scenario could he love us any more than he does, simply because he is our father.
Met where we are. I have heard many people say in some form or another, “If I can just get my life on track, then I would follow God.” Their admission of brokenness, although beautiful, leads to a misguided conclusion: We must become something in order to meet God. The reality is God wants to meet us where we are. He is standing over us, gazing at us in all our simplicity and complexity, our beauty and our pain. He has met us. And yet before our vision develops, before we learn the truth about the world around us, many of us don’t know he is there. We wait to develop, thinking that if we only improve, or fix, or change, or grow, we can meet with God. He has been with us all along, he has been watching us, he has been whispering to us, he has been sustaining our existence. God’s presence in our lives is not contingent on who we are; our realization of his presence is the only contingency.
Perhaps it just takes trust. It takes faith. I don’t think Patrick can fully see my face yet, I know he cant verbally articulate who I am, but I see his grin when he hears my voice, I see him sleep when he feels my warmth. He knows who I am, he knows I am there. I am not waiting for him to grow up before I show up in his life. I am waiting for him to continue to show that he knows who I am, yet even if he doesn’t, I will love him all the same.