I caught my daughter trying too hard to please me. I didn’t like it.
One day last week I noticed that most every approach she made to me included a desire for something other than to please me. She had come to doubt that I was pleased with her simply because she was actually pleasing to me. So she began the ugly attempt to earn it.
She cleaned up her breakfast stuff (plates, containers, glass, etc.) and announced loudly, “Well, that’s done.” She told me she was mad at one of her classmates that doesn’t believe in Jesus, but who instead believes in the elephant God. “He’s such an idiot! I mean, c’mon—the elephant god?! That’s ridiculous. Right, dad?” She offered to get me a glass of water and to bring the morning paper to me. And she chattered incessantly about topics and viewpoints she thought I’d like. It was like she was creating evidence and at the same time verbally building a really strong case that she was, in fact, pleasing. “Here’s the evidence before you, Judge Daddy, and here’s why it’s proof that I am pleasing.”
What really got my attention was that I began to grow weary of being with her. I thought, “Good thing school starts in a half hour.”
Now, I absolutely love my daughter—I know it, and so does virtually anyone and everyone around the two of us. Ask them, they’ll tell you. It’s obvious. But what I didn’t like was what was happening to my girl because she wasn’t sure, having been listening to the mind of the flesh, or to the whisperings of the enemy. Her approach and involvement with me was no longer because she just had to be with me, you know, really wanted to be with me because it meant fun and goodness and delight and laughter and unity. She came to me to prove something—“See, daddy? I’m good. I’m faithful. You like me, right?"—as if I didn’t agree with her.
I know there are lots of people who would say, “Well, Ralph, you haven’t been spending enough time with her, you haven’t had enough quality time with her, you need to brush-up on your daddy skills.” But I didn’t care about any of that, neither did I sense the Holy Spirit saying it to me. (I think we too often out-think the Spirit, instead of just wanting to know what He’s saying and doing.) I wanted to be with my girl, so I spent what seemed like all day with her on my lap. We watched movies and silly kids shows, ate breakfast and lunch together, talked about her friends and not-so-much friends, and more.
And you know what happened? She figured it out. Now she seeks me out when we’re home together (she was just in my lap five minutes ago) because she likes being with me, and she knows I like being with her.
Moral of the story? I think we sometimes get used to approaching God while wondering the same thing—“See, Daddy? I’m good. I’m faithful. You like me, right?” If we don’t hear or sense anything bad from God, we move off, settling for half satisfaction. I want to suggest that you forego the effort to prove to God that you’re good or lovable or faithful—“See, Daddy?”—and that, instead, you ask God what He thinks of you. He’s really good at loving us without our having done anything to deserve it. Remember? Didn’t He love you like crazy before you had done anything good anyway? I’ll bet the same thing goes for now, too. You've got nothing to prove, nothing to earn.
Believing that we need to prove ourselves to God sets us up for a lifetime of fear and distance from Him. We may come to believe that He only likes us after we’ve done something heroic or Biblical, but not until, not unless. And that’s nuts.
So, how about approaching God as though He loves you at least as much as He did before you were His, before He made you holy and blameless, as well as the home in which He now dwells.
Have a go at it, and see what Daddy does. I bet you'll be pleased.