Father, may I?

A friend recently told me that 2 1/2 is a special age. We’re finding that out with Isabelle. Her imagination is expanding. We frequently have a baby and an Elmo join us at the dinner table, and she brings them to her table to play Play-Doh. And she sings made-up songs. Or a combination of made-up songs.

She’s also becoming increasingly inquisitive. Besides asking, “Mommy, what’s that?” she also frequently asks permission to do all sorts of things. “Mommy, can I?” is an oft-heard phrase around here. Sometimes, it’s appropriate, like, “Mommy, can I watch ‘Barney’?” Other times, it’s not. “Mommy, can I finish my dinner?” is not a question that needs to be asked. Am I going to say “No” to that? Some of her questions are met with a “yes,” others will always be answered “No,” like “Mommy, can I ride in the back seat?” when we’re in the van negotiating our little lawyer into her car seat before we start the car.

Her questions make me think of how I talk to God. Sometimes I think I ask Him questions I already know the answer to. Like, do I really need His permission to help someone in need, or start a conversation, or smile at a stranger? Or any other number of things that would always get a “Yes” from Him. Conversely, I know that some things are always going to generate a “No.”  Can I hold a grudge? Can I be bitter? Is it OK for me to envy that person a little? Can I temporarily disown my husband while he’s engrossed in watching World Cup soccer matches and shouting at the TV or computer?

We’re studying prayer in our Sunday School class right now, and this week we learned that obedience to God opens the lines of communication with Him while sin and disobedience close those lines. In some ways, it’s like when my daughter whines for something she wants. I sometimes tell her I can’t hear her when she talks like that. Or if she forgets “the magic word” when she demands we fulfill a request, we wait until we hear it before letting her have what she’s asked for.

God is the ultimate parent and being a parent has deepened my relationship with Him because I see so much more from His point of view what it must be like to watch His children grow in their faith. How much patience, love, instruction, discipline and work is involved, and how He cares for us.

I didn’t intend for this to be a Father’s Day post, but it’s sort of turning into that. I wonder if God celebrates Father’s Day or if for Him, every day is Father’s Day.


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