On occasion, ministry opportunities require me to travel. The first few times this happened, the most exciting perk was the travel itself. The excitement of airports and planes, the new places and people, the cultures and meals I shared in. I still enjoy these things, well, maybe not the airports and planes. No, my favorite selfish pleasure when I travel away from home is that I can sleep all night without anyone calling my name.
I have been a father to an ever-increasing family, that now numbers five, for over 18 years. Most of the dynamics have been fluid and ever-changing, with the exception of just one thing. Night after night, year after year, I rest my head on the pillow at night with the expectation that soon I would hear that echoing call, “Dad, I need you.”
I guess there have been times when I sprung joyfully from my sleep to swiftly run and kneel beside their bed. I don’t recall any of those moments, but I’m sure they happened. Maybe. Mostly I just sigh and swing my legs over the side of the bed to plod that well-worn path and mumble, “What do you want?” Once or twice I might have pretended to not hear them, hoping my wife would take that bait. Maybe.
Of course, I never actually left them calling, eventually that ‘I’m a good dad’ feeling would kick in and I’d wander off, again, for the umpteenth time in a row, and see what they needed—87% of the time it was a glass of water—100% of the time I got it for them.
I’m not sure why my kids can’t get a glass of water on their own. They know where the cups are kept. They know where the water comes from. They have the skills necessary. Maybe water, hand-delivered by dad, just tastes better—like Coke does when it’s drunk from a glass bottle. I’m not sure why my kids holler from their bed, rather than just slip out from under the covers and come quietly down the hall to gently wake me from my slumber, instead, they insist on calling me in the night.
I guess my character as a dad in this matter is fairly well known, I mean, when Jesus teaches his disciples about the nature of prayer, the character of ‘the Father’, and what we should expect when we call out to Him—he calls us ‘evil’. I think he’s pretty much nailed it.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" - Luke 11:13
God is such a better dad than I am, and I think that’s what Jesus’ point is. When his followers wanted to know how to pray, yes, he gave them a template they could follow, but he gave them something so much more. Instead of giving them the magic formula, the special incantation that will bring God out like a genie from a bottle—Jesus gave them something so much better. When asked about how to pray, Jesus gave them an example but then said, “I want to let you in on a secret—you want to know how to pray, but let me tell you about the one to whom you are praying.” Jesus was saying that when we call in the night, it’s good to know the character of our dad.
The first thing to know is that your father isn’t like us. He will not hear your call and roll his eyes while muttering under his breath. He will not drag his feet down the hall, stand in your doorway and demand, “What now?” He certainly will not pretend to be asleep hoping you’ll just give up and go away. God is better than that. God is better than me.
He hears your desperate call in the night. He knows that you are falling. He feels your fear. He discerns your thoughts from afar. He draws near. He is close. He listens. He responds. He says, “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things.”
When you call in the night, remember this, God is better than me. When you call in the night, God is good.
Editor's Note: This originally published at Chris' blog.