Friday, July 10, 2009

Pleasing Judge Daddy

I caught my daughter trying too hard to please me. I didn’t like it.

Over the course of a few days last week I noticed that every approach she made to me had a sort of I’m-trying-to-get-something-from-you feel about it. Somehow she had come to doubt that I was pleased with her simply because she was actually pleasing to me—I really like her. So she began the ugly attempt to earn it.

She cleaned up her breakfast stuff and, looking over her shoulder, announced loudly, “Well, that’s done.” She told me she was mad at one of her classmates who 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. “How ‘bout those Dodgers?!”

It was like she was building a really strong case that she was, in fact, pleasing, by creating the evidence—clean dishes—and announcing it verbally so I wouldn’t miss it. “Look what I’ve done. I’ve cleaned my dishes!” Several times a day, this is how it went:

“Here’s the evidence before you, Judge Daddy, and here’s why it’s proof that I am pleasing.”

Now, I absolutely love my daughter—I know it, and so does virtually anyone and everyone who gets around the two of us. It’s obvious. My judgment of her is great. But what I didn’t like was what was happening to my girl because she wasn’t sure. She was working to change my mind.

Maybe she had been listening to the mind of the flesh, or to the whisperings of the enemy. “Daddy’s not pleased with you.” Her approach and involvement with me was no longer because she just had to be with me because it meant fun and goodness and delight and laughter and unity. Believing a lie, she came to me to prove something—“See, daddy? I’m good. I’m faithful. You like me, right?"—as if I might not agree with her.

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 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. I’m really good toward her, and she’s convinced again.

Moral of the story? I think we sometimes get used to approaching God motivated by the same fear. “See, Father? I’m good. I’m faithful. You like me now, right? Sure hope so.” Ever feel that way? It means that we’ve forgotten or had stolen from us the confidence that, because of God’s own doing, He is perfect toward us and He has made us perfect with Him. He’s gotten rid of all that stood between us—every condition, every rule and every failure to keep them—and He has brought us near in joyful delight. It’s now His favorite thing to convince us of how right we are with Him, which strips away fear by overwhelming it with love. It’s all true.

I suggest you forego the effort to prove to God that you’re good or lovable or faithful—“See, Daddy?”—and that, instead, you ask God or read about what He thinks of you. He’s really good at loving us without our having done anything to deserve it. That’s the gospel. Remember? Didn’t He love you like crazy before you had done anything good anyway? I’ll bet the same thing goes for right now, too. You've got nothing to prove and 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 the lie that He only likes us after we’ve done something heroic or Biblical, but not until, not unless. That’s crazy-hard. And it induces us to ignore all that He has done. That’s Satan’s game.

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 by His judgment.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:13-15


  1. Anonymous9:32 PM

    Hi Ralph,
    Thanks for this. I read it and it confirmed everything God has been speaking to me these past couple of weeks.
    Thanks...and love you,

  2. Anonymous9:33 PM

    So so true, such a good visual/medaphor probably because we have a 7 year daughter. Thank you for this reminder, AMEN

  3. Anonymous9:33 PM

    I can't beleive this.

  4. Anonymous9:33 PM

    Thanks for sharing, Ralph. It's always good to be reminded that "Daddy" God loves us just like we are, where we are and who we are!

  5. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Enjoyed the writing, Ralph...and totally agree! Let me read it again!