Life is full of pain. It’s inevitable (Jesus Himself promised it). Some inflicted by others. Some the result of bad choices. Some the result of random tragedy. Some the unavoidable product of living in a broken world.
Since pain is a clear certainty, my prayer is that God would never let me waste it.
The last few years have been a season of pruning. For those of you not familiar with botany or its scriptural analogy to our lives, that simply means a cutting away of dead or overgrown branches so that the healthy and desired fruit can continue to grow and flourish. These seasons are necessary, but they’re in no way enjoyable.
As we pursue God, the byproduct isn’t always warm fuzzies. In fact, when we begin to place God in His proper place in our lives, the immediate fallout is usually the painful exposure of countless “false gods” we didn’t even know we’d been trusting in for so long. The destruction of these idols is the most loving thing God could ever walk us through. It’s also feels similar to root canal without novocaine.
From a job and friendships that had become my identity, to placing my hope in the stability and strength of family (oh, didn’t I tell you, these idols can be made of beautiful things, too), to the classic belief that money is the source of my security. One by one over the past few years, God has shown me the futility of my misplaced trust, as these good things I had made into supreme things crumbled under the weight of what they were never intended to be.
And now God has another imposter in His sights. A unique one of sorts:
I want my kids to trust in me.
I didn’t say trust me. I said trust in me.
As a father, I want the absolute best for my kids. This is a beautiful, God-given instinct to provide and protect, to pave the way and become a life-long source of wisdom and help. But I’m realizing my limits, and it’s terrifying to me. They need things I don’t know if I can provide. They’re asking questions I don’t know how to answer. They’re beginning to have problems I can’t solve. So I lose sleep. I stare at the ceiling. I battle anxiety.
I want to be their go-to. I want to be their source. I want to be…their idol.
And God shines a light on the next effigy in my trophy case.
“You want them to trust in you. I want you to teach them to TRUST IN ME.”
My role as an earthly father is to reflect and point to the Heavenly Father, but sometimes I try to usurp the leading role for myself like I’m starring in the next Marvel movie. I’m not their savior. I’m here to put their hands in His hands. I’m here to lead them to Jesus. And that means telling them how much I need Him, too. That means showing them how the Gospel destroys my idols, including my desire to become one of theirs.
I can’t be my kids’ Source. But I can ask them to trust me as I teach them to trust in Jesus.