Juice and Joy

I spent 24 hours last weekend with 11 other men. There was food, laughter, games and great spiritual conversation. It was a step out of the routine to take a step forward in our growth as Biblically Authentic Men (B.A.M!).

As part of our interaction, this question was posed: “What do you think God would say about you?” As I listened to the answers and pondered my own, I was struck by the significance this simple question has in each of our lives.

I asked that same question to my daughter last night. We were talking about the day, which included a series of poor choices on her part. I eased into the question from my weekend by asking a related question: “Tell me the first word that comes to mind when I mention ‘God’.” There was silence. Total brain freeze. All I got was the non-verbal of big, brown, questioning (yet hopeful) eyes.

I went into defrost mode with a redirection: “What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think about Nacho?” (Nacho is our much-loved dog with bladder control issues).

“He’s Cute?” she said.
“Great!” I returned.
“And cuddly!”
“Yep. Is he soft or scratchy?”
“Soft – sort of.”
“Big, or small?”
“Small, but kinda medium sized.”

Alright, now we’re rolling. Let’s sneak-in the Final Jeopardy question: “So…what do you think about God?”

“He doesn’t lie.”
“Okay. What else?
“He is Holy. Trustworthy.”
“Mmmmhhmm.”
“He’s Faithful. And Merciful.”
I wanted something specific, so I probed. “Anything else?”
I waited.
She gave a coy smile, “Mmmmmm…nope.”

A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” As we continued to talk, my daughter gave me the gift of an unobstructed view into how she sees God, and herself. As she did, I was grieved – for two reasons. First, because she’s a lot like me: a perfectionist who wrestles with anger. Second, she doesn’t naturally connect with the loving side of God. This is not to say she misunderstands who God is. What she does understand is amazing and wonderful. It’s the start of a timeless journey of ever new discovery. But the present limits of her understanding strongly influence her self-image and behavior. It colors how she views her actions, resulting consequences and the importance of trust. Even more, what she thinks about God is directly related to what she thinks He thinks about her (you might have to read that sentence again).

Again, I go to Tozer for help with engaging the loving side of God. He said, “The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly.  By His nature He is inclined to bestow blessedness and He takes total pleasure in the happiness of His people.”

As a dad, I’m excited about walking with my daughter in search of a greater taste of God’s love. It’s work to develop right thinking that balances truth and love without abusing God’s mercy or snubbing his holiness. From the truth of God’s character flows the restful, restorative, redemptive and purifying currents of His love. Richard Rohr said, “If your truth does not set you free, it is not truth at all. If God cannot be rested in, He must not be much of a God. If God is not juice and joy, then what has created all these lilacs and lilies?” More juice. More joy. I long for a deeper enjoyment of a God who sees me as enjoyable – to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep” His love is for me. (Ephesians 3:16-19) A God who invites us all to dwell under His friendly sky.

P.S. This song from David Crowder Band has been a powerful tool to enlarge my soul and receive the love of God.

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