Life Under the Hood


Photo Credit: Stampest via Compfight cc

I’m not exactly what you would call mechanically inclined.  I’ve literally spent hours trying to put new wiper blades on my car.  Hours.  When mechanics see me walk into their shop, they start high-fiving each other and calling their wives.  “Hey, babe, looks like we’re going to put in that pool.”

It’s not like my dad didn’t try to help me.  I think from a very early age, he could tell I had mechanical issues.  Fortunately, the cars we owned kept breaking down, so he had plenty of opportunities to take me under the hood and try to teach me some automotive survival skills.

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Sounding Out Faith

My daughter floored me this week, absolutely blew me away. 

We sat snuggling in the big, comfy chair in our living room, a book opened in our lap.  Nothing new there.  I’ve spent way more time reading to her in the past five years than reading on my own.   I’ve been a rabid bookworm since birth, but Emma came into this world inheriting a double-dose of that DNA. 

Our father-daughter book club, however, shot to a whole new level when Emma turned to the first page and began reading to me. 

Wow.  I love those words. 

Emma.  Began.  Reading.  

It wasn’t just a word here or there, not just something she had memorized, but really plodding through word-by-word, sounding them out and telling a story. 

Sure she got stuck on some big words, but she was reading more than she wasn’t.  For someone without a passion for books, the pace would be maddening, but for a book-freak like me, it was pure delight. 

It’s like she’s the first kid who has ever learned to read. 

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy watching her learn to walk or talk or ride a bike, but reading?  Reading  blows them all away.   Those other activities are great – that walking and talking thing especially comes in handy – but if I had the choice in how to spend my day, the book would win hands down.

It’s my passion, and now it’s hers.  But it’s not just that she shares my passion.  We now share an ability to do something with it.    

I wonder if God feels the same way when I take the first awkward stab at doing the things He loves to do – giving generously, forgiving freely, loving someone other than myself.  He’s so good at it.  He’s been doing it for so long.  Me?  I definitely need help sounding out the big words – words like selflessness, faith and surrender.

My spiritual life is often like a five year-old learning to read.  Slow, halting, clumsy, but beautiful to the One who loves me. 

I can tell you from a father’s point-of-view, I only get frustrated with Emma when she gets discouraged and wants to give up.   Could the same be true of God?    

I genuinely think He delights when we love what He loves, but more than that, that He is thrilled when we begin to actually do what we see Him doing. 

Jesus had only one game plan for His life.  Keep an eye on His Father and do whatever He saw the Father doing.  Not a bad way to live.

I want to grow my passion for the things that make my Father’s heart beat fast.  I want to fearlessly take those awkward steps to doing what He does, and I want to turn to Him with confidence and ask for Him to help me walk through the stuff that’s too big for me to understand.   

God, help me sound out the big words of faith!

Sitting in my Father’s lap, there’s a whole world of stories to discover, and I don’t want to miss out on a single one.

Me Do It!

For a two year-old, my daughter Kate has an amazing command of the Queen’s English.  Some of her favorite phrases include: 

1.      I want cheese (take my picture).
2.      I stinky (change my diaper).
3.      Dress (put some clothes on me, dummy).
As you can see, most of the words she uses are commands.  I think she’s convinced I’m her butler.  Her favorite phrase by far, though, the phrase that she repeats at least twenty times a day, is the ever-popular “Me do it.” 
“Here Kate, let me pour you some milk.”
 “Me do it!”
  “Hold still honey, I need to put your socks on you.”
 “Me do it!” 
“Where are you going with my car keys?”
“Me do it!”
For Kate every day is Independence Day, and every task takes ten times longer than it should because she insists on trying to do it herself.  No matter how hard she tries, eventually the milk gets spilled, her socks end up on her hands and, as for the car keys, I haven’t actually let her try that one yet.  We’ll just assume it would not go well. 
If I dare try to help her with anything, she gets really angry.  Often she’ll take whatever she’s working on to another part of the room so I can’t interfere.   Finally, though, she reaches a point of exasperation and says the words I’ve been waiting to hear.  “Daddy, help.” 
“Honey,” I say, “That’s what Daddy’s been trying to do all along.”
I wish I could say Kate has learned her stubborn independence from her mom.  So I will.  She definitely learned it from her mother.  But I suppose if I’m honest, her dad may have had something to do with it too.
No matter how many years I’ve been friends with God, my first reaction to the problems of my life is still, “Me do it!”  Even when the task is obviously beyond me, I have this illusion that I can handle any challenge that comes my way. 
I have a major financial decision.  Me do it!
I have to deal with conflict at work.  Me do it!
I have a persistent sin I can’t seem to shake.  Me do it!
A two year old saying, “Me do it,” is cute.  A thirty-eight year old saying it to God is delusional.  I mean, c’mon, He’s the God of the universe.  He has limitless power, limitless resources and limitless good will to help His people. 
Throughout my life I’ve struggled with overeating.  For me it’s not just a health issue but a heart issue.  When I’m at my worst, I use food to deal with stress and emotions.  That’s the kind of socially acceptable thing ministers do since they don’t drink or smoke.  So a couple of years ago I noticed this had gotten worse and I tried to buckle down and change my eating habits.  I found I just couldn’t.  I was stuck.  In fact, the harder I tried, the worse I seemed to do. 
Once again “me do it” was a total flop.  It was only when I became totally frustrated with myself that I gave up the fight and asked for God’s help, really asked for His help to the point where I was willing to do whatever He said to make the changes I needed to make.   
Within weeks my attitude towards food had totally reversed.  For God, this was a no-brainer.  For me, it was impossible. 
Like Kate, when my Father tries to help me, I often withdraw so He can’t interfere.  This always ends in frustration.  It’s only after I reach the end of myself, that I finally say the words He’s been waiting to hear.  “Daddy, help.” 
“Jason,” He says, ”that’s what Daddy’s been trying to do all along.”