The Ever-Present Father

With yesterday being Father’s Day, I was reminded of just how good I’ve had it. Not only am I fortunate to have grown up with an earthly father who was always in my life, but I also had a relationship with my heavenly Father from a young age. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have times where I wavered and forgot who I belonged to, but I always had someone protecting me and looking out for me.

For so much of my life, I was always in a hurry to grow up because I thought I knew what I wanted in life. But then, as soon as I reached an age where I had to make adult decisions about my future, I felt lost. It was around that time that I encountered God in a way that transformed my life and paved the way for me to be where I am now.

While neither of my fathers have changed in their love and devotion to me, I’ve seen my relationship with them mature. I’ve learned to appreciate the moments of right now because I know it’s a moment I won’t get back. The incredible thing about God is that He always present and ready to listen even though He’s a God who transcends time. He enjoys every second that we take the time to be with Him.

Part of God’s goodness is that even though He’s excited about who we’ll become and all the good He has for us in the future, He’s also the Father who gives us good things right now. To Him, the journey is important, and He takes delight in watching us grow and learn. While He is the Everlasting Father, He’s also the Ever-Present One.

Running on autopilot

We live in a world where cars are now starting to drive themselves. In fact, the idea of being able to put something on autopilot seems convenient to us. But it only lasted so long before we saw how dangerous it can also be when it backfires. We too have the tendency to live our lives on autopilot instead of taking control.

For instance, we’re constantly learning more about personalities and the way some people think and process the world. It can help us be more aware of our patterns and responses. I’ve also seen people use their personality types as an excuse for why they can’t or won’t do something rather than just taking responsibility. They let their personality drive them on autopilot.

Christians are also guilty of doing this. Many tend to have a “que sera sera” attitude without realizing that their prayers and words have great impact on their futures. Yes, there are things that happen that are out of our control, but too many people let life dictate them instead of dictating their lives.

There are certain things in my life that are presets: I will always go to church whenever possible, I will always participate in worship, I will always serve Jesus for the rest of my life. Having presets doesn’t mean I’m on autopilot, but they become the basis through which I make decisions when it comes to my life. I actively make the choice to follow what I believe.

Patience (noun): quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence

Sometimes the phrase “be patient” can leave a sour taste in my mouth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that patience is not my strong suit. It’s not that I’m not willing to work hard for wait for something, but more that I don’t like the uncertainty. Recently though, I’ve learned why patience is important.

It’s always helpful to look to God as our example and standard in life. God in His nature and character is outside of the limits of time, and yet He’s patient. In fact, even 1 Corinthians 13 makes a point to tell us that love is patient. The reality of it is, patience is actually willingly submitting yourself to another’s timeline.

God could do anything He wants at any time, but He chooses to wait for us to come to Him and for us to be ready. That’s why love requires patience, because letting go of our own timeline makes us be selfless. Patience is about so much more than just waiting.

So now, I’m again learning what it means to be patient. I’m learning what it means to say, “I love you enough to submit myself to your timeline. Even though you’re not ready yet, I can wait until you are.” It’s that aspect of love that keeps a body moving together as one instead of a few running ahead of the others.

Commit (verb): to pledge or engage oneself

Why is it that we live in a world where commitment issues are prevalent? How did we get to the point where half of marriages end in divorce and people change their relationships faster than they change their phones? Why are there breeds of penguins that have more loyalty than those of us who can choose for ourselves to stick with something?

A few nights ago, I realized something ironic about my personality type: we don’t like long-term planning, but we want long-term relationships. We want to know that the people closest to us aren’t going to betray us for someone or something else. Perhaps we even look to that commitment to be our long-term plan.

It can be hard sometimes when you want long-term commitment in a world where people leave if they see something “better.” We’re always looking for a way out, looking for a better opportunity. We get bored or afraid or angry, and we betray the people we promised we’d always be there for. And this is our normal.

But I don’t want to be like that. There was a moment when I looked to God and said, “You’re it for me. I’m living for You for the rest of my life, and I’m never changing my mind.” Everyday I work hard to be a person of my word, someone who can be depended on by both God and other people. I live in a culture where all I have to do to stand out is be committed.

Trend: the general course or prevailing tendency; drift

Being part of the millennial generation is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantages include the wide technological advances that have occurred in the past few decades. More than any other generation, we have internet access that allows us to easily communicate with others around the world. A disadvantage is we often spend more time in virtual reality than in the real world.

We tend to substitute real relationships for those that we have online. Also, our attention spans have shortened because we have access to so much information. One common thing that my generation pays attention to are the online trends.

The thing with trends is that you never know what might be popular next. Most trends are very short-lived; what was big news yesterday is now yesterday’s news in the shadow of what’s happening today. So many people strive for acceptance and popularity online instead of looking to find real connection from the person sitting beside them.

Right now our trend is our phones and computers, but the trends can always change. The one thing that will always be relevant is our need for the presence of God. No amount of technology can substitute the real, tangible power and glory of God. Technology can be a helpful tool in helping others experience is, but it’s just the caveat through which it can move. I don’t know what will be on the news tomorrow, but I do know that God will still be God.

Do what scares you

All of us wake up every day and are faced with the same enemy. We wake up, filled with hopes and dreams and things we want to accomplish, only to hear the same voice that tells us we can’t. Often, fear is the only thing that keeps people from becoming and doing exactly what they were destined for. And we let it stop us.

Part of the problem is that we don’t learn to discern between rational fear and irrational fear. Rational fear is actually more like wisdom, but irrational fear can sometimes sound like is wisdom when it’s actually keeping you bound. It’s the fear of public speaking or of the dark. It’s the defining line between those who cower and those who overcome.

One of the best ways that I’ve learned to conquer fear is to remember that it can’t coexist with perfect love. Perfect love isn’t this lofty idea or philosophy, but it’s knowing who God is in the way that I can say, “My Father loves me and wants what’s best for me, and if He’s telling me to take this leap, He’s going to catch me.”

Too often we’re waiting around for God to show up to squash our fear when He’s waiting for us to agree with who He’s already told us He is and what He’s done. So those dreams that are so big that it scares you… do it. Don’t let fear be what dictates your life anymore.

Finding the buried treasure

With the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean premiering in theaters later this month, the idea of pirates searching for hidden treasure is fresh in my mind. In the typical pirating story, there’s a map that indicates where one should go in order to find the location to start searching and digging. Usually the treasure is something that’s worth the effort.

A few days ago I was at an all-day songwriting gathering, and we encountered a plethora of writer’s block and wrestling as we spent hours writing songs. Just the night before we had heard a sermon about digging and redigging wells, and our senior pastors had even made us a video to encourage us. Our leadership wanted us to have to work hard to write these songs.

There are moments when things come easily and you don’t have to work hard for them, but then there are moments when you have to fight in order to see something to the end. While I do appreciate the moments that are easy, I’ve learned to appreciate the times when I have to dig to find the treasure.

That song that many of us dug to write is only in the beginning phases, but it’s one that I’m proud of have been a part of forming. It’s a song that can go places and impact the lives of people because it came from hearts that have dedicated their lives to finding the treasure and sharing it with others. So follow the map, but be willing to get your hands dirty to find the gold that lies under the surface.