Being a dad is tricky, and I don’t always get it right, so when I do it tends to stick in the mind.
One Australian summer’s day, at the local pool, a young Calvin came to me with a two dollar coin that he’d found. “What should I do with this, dad?“ he asked, and in a moment of inspiration I replied, “Well, what do you think you should do with it?” He thought for a second before declaring that he thought that he should hand it in at the office. “OK, good boy, off you go and do that,” I told him. He’d done a good thing, and he’d decided to do it by himself with minimal input from me. For a father, that’s a satisfactory result. I sat back, warmed by the sun and the inner glow of a job well done.
The goal of a sensible father is to develop a measure of independence in his child; a level of maturity that means that she is able to give a good answer to the questions that life throws at her without needing a stage prompt every time. A man of 25 who is unable to make a decision without ringing his parents for guidance every time is still a child.
We recognise this, and know that what we want for our own children is growth and independence, yet we think that God wants something less for us. God’s desire is for mature children, for us to immerse ourselves in His character so that our hearts begin to beat along to His rhythm. Then we’ll find ourselves acting out His nature without needing to think about it, or even – heaven forbid! – go away and pray about it. This is exactly the thrust of Paul’s discourse in Galatians 3:23-4:7, where he is arguing that we should cut the apron strings that tie us to the Law Nanny, and instead go out into the world as responsible children, making mature decisions on our Father’s behalf in the family business.
I’m sure we’ve all had times when we’ve screamed “What should I do!?” at God, and all we get is silence. Has it ever occurred to you that it may not be silence as such, but rather the patience of a good father, who is actually saying, “Well, what do you think you should do?”; a father who is waiting to see your response and is just bursting for an opportunity to call out, “Yes! Well done!”