Jesus Is Enough

Earlier this week I was having a rough couple of days. I’m not talking about anything tragic or life-altering; just one of those inconvenient, get-under-your-skin, first-world-problems sort of rough patch. It all started with a seemingly innocent trip to run some errands. While in town, I decided to get my wife a treat from her favorite coffee shop. I drove all the way across town only to find the doors locked because they aren’t open that particular day of the week. Not one to give up easily, I opted for plan B and went to a local gas station that serves decent coffee. By this time, I was feeling like I needed/deserved a coffee myself and I ordered a large for both of us and then waited for what seemed an eternity. With our drinks finally in hand, I was headed out the door when, for no reason that I can figure, my coffee (not my wife’s!) leapt out of my hand and flung itself on the sidewalk. Grumbling and complaining, I headed home where upon arrival (after a 35 min drive that normally takes 10 minutes) I find my 2 year old joyfully jumping up and down in the doorway yelling “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” My spirits immediately lifted – until I opened the door and smelled the mother-of-all-stenches coming from her diaper and realized she was jumping for joy in a puddle of her own pee. My wife and I both exclaim “perfect timing” – though with drastically different tones.

Though the rest of the evening was relatively uneventful, I was tired and increasingly grouchy. By the time I was ready to lay down in bed, I was convinced that this was all I needed. I just needed some sleep. Everything would be better in the morning. However, instead of the restful night’s sleep I thought I so desperately needed I got an all night wrestling match with a toddler who was determined to “sweep wit Daddy” (insert pitiful looks and whimpers here). Apparently, she won because I woke up to a foot in my face and my wife’s laughter at the scowl that apparently accompanied it.

I was starting my day tired and overwhelmed and I felt God pulling me toward a much needed time of rest in Him. Unfortunately, I was much too busy to rest. I had a very full schedule that day, but by early afternoon I felt that I could no longer handle the physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion I was feeling and decided I had to take time out to spend with God. I generally try to do this out by the lake if I can, so I found myself walking a trail along the shoreline, crying out to God. After confessing my sinful attitudes and responses, I stopped and said, “God, I’m tired and overwhelmed and I’m a grouch and I don’t want to be. I’m trying to get everything done and to be more like you. What else do you want from me?” Immediately, as clearly as if someone spoke the words out loud, I felt God say “I’m enough!” At that moment I felt simultaneously rebuked and comforted, the way a small child might feel after being scolded by dad and then being held in his arms while he cries it out.

I looked back at my rough couple of days and knew I wasn’t enough. I knew that my hard work wasn’t enough. Achieving my goals and accomplishing my plans would never be enough. My means of coping could never be enough. I knew that my attempts to be spiritual were not enough. The satisfaction of my desires would never be enough. Even my attempt at rest on my own terms would never be enough.

I looked forward to a day and week that were increasingly busy, but I knew He was enough. As I finished about an hour or so of conversation with God while enjoying His creation, I knew that He would be my strength, because He is enough. He would be my rest, because He is enough. With no additional sleep or caffeine, I suddenly felt energized and excited about what God had in store for me. I felt refreshed and had truly received rest.

This is what God wants to be the norm for you and I. He gently calls to us, “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10.” This is not a call to passivity or laziness, but a call to actively pursue Him through intentional rest from the business of life. As good as that sounds, it actually takes a great deal of faith to practice it. You see, I wasn’t willing to rest in God because I was still placing my faith in my own efforts to accomplish my tasks and fulfill His plan. Taking time out to rest requires me to place faith in Him that He, indeed, is enough. He will accomplish His work and He will fulfill His plan and I simply need to trust and rest in Him. I am so thankful for the personal reminder I received this week that “my soul finds rest in God alone (Psalm 62:1).” I must rest in Him, for He is enough!

Father’s Day Surprise

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A few days ago my wife called me at the office saying the kids had a surprise for me and would like me to come in the front door instead of the garage when I got home. With my interest peaked, I gladly agreed. As it turns out, they had ordered a father’s day gift for me and when it was delivered they decided they should just give it to me rather than try to move and hide the box for the next few days. They worked hard decorating the box with drawings and wrote Happy Father’s Day Dad in colorful, decorative lettering. They were so creative that certain letters stood out differently than others, resulting in my great surprise as (through the glass door) I read “FAT Dad” on the package. We all laughed once I came inside and realized the sentiment was much less offensive than it first seemed. In a matter of seconds I went from being surprised by the rudeness of an insult to being surprised by the excitement and generosity of my kids.

Honestly, that would be a pretty good way to describe my entire parental experience – one surprise after another. Some good and others not so good, but each exciting and important in its own way. As a new dad, I remember being surprised by how often a baby ate and how little they slept at night. I’ve been surprised by the large messes that can come from such little people. I’ve been surprised by hugs and cuddles and tackles. I’ve been surprised by first words and big words and hurtful words. I’ve been surprised by the questions: some sincere, some ridiculous and some never-ending. I’ve been surprised by silliness and foolishness, but also by wisdom beyond years.

I remember being surprised by that first realization that my own Dad was far more impressive than I had given him credit for. I was surprised by how exhausting kids can be, though I remember spending countless hours playing with him. I was surprised at how little I actually got to fish when I took my own boys fishing, despite the fact that I thought my trips with Dad were pretty smooth. I’ve been surprised by how hard it is to balance ministry and family, though my Dad seemed to get everything done and always have time for me. I’ve been surprised by how difficult parenting can be because Dad made it seem easy. I’ve been surprised by how much I took him for granted growing up.

I’ve also been surprised by myself. I’ve been surprised by how much I didn’t know and how much a child can teach. I’ve been surprised by how much I can love my children, yet I’ve also been surprised at how many other emotions I can feel toward those same little kids. I’ve been surprised by the anger I can feel and how quickly they can melt it away. I’ve been surprised by the overwhelming feeling that I know less what I’m doing the longer I do it. I’ve been surprised that there’s no system, no predictability and almost no trick that works from one child to the next.

Though I shouldn’t have been, I’ve also been surprised by God. I’ve been surprised by His love, grace and patience with me as a failure. I’ve been surprised over and over again by His forgiveness of my shortcomings. Though I should have known better, I’ve been surprised by His merciful hand in the midst of my mess. I’ve been surprised to see Him sovereignly working in my life and the lives of my children to shape us into His image despite ourselves.

Yes, I think my parenting journey is best summed up as a series of blessed surprises heaped one on top of the other. Though sometimes the surprise is not always pleasant, I can be sure there is another one coming just around the corner. To all of you dads out there, Happy Father’s Day. I hope you enjoy all of the incredible surprises of being a dad!