Parents today seem to be consumed with controlling their children’s environment and choices, protecting them from every potential threat, monitoring their every move so that they can be ready to step in and handle whatever that child faces.  I heard on the radio yesterday that there are now knee pads available to protect children learning to crawl and schools allowing only nerf balls at recess.  Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t even count the times I’ve known my decision mattered eminently, and having no clue what the right decision was.  But I also know that most of my most powerful learning and growth occurred when I had the full responsibility for the results of my choices.  Most of my most powerful lessons came from learning the “hard” way: testing the boundaries to see if they were firm, exploring the forbidden to find it well named, trusting myself when I was not qualified. 

 My understanding of God is much the same.  I have learned about God, not by showing up for Sunday School or Bible study and believing what I was told, but by seeking him for himself – in his word and in my life.  I don’t have a relationship with him because of someone else’s stories with him; I have a relationship with him because of my own successes and failures as I test the boundaries of his love and power, being wounded by the things he warned me against, and finding my own power and wisdom to be insufficient. 

 God is not the kind of parent who forces me to know and love and obey him.  He always knows my location, and I can’t even count the times he’s protected me from myself, but he also knows that the lessons that will most impact my heart and maturity are those that I learn for myself.   God calls us his children, not his robots.  He gives us free will so that we will learn to make better choices and seek relationship with him, rather than just avoid unpleasant consequences.  He gives me the freedom to find out that the “far country” will break my heart.  That ignoring his law will never work out well.  That his ways are wiser and better than mine.  He wants me to know him, and he’s patient enough to walk with me until I learn to seek him.  He wants me to choose to know him and love him.

 God will not fit into a small, neat, preconceived box. He is who he is, not who we try to force him to be, and he wants desperately for us know him as he is. Even a cursory look at God’s history with his people clearly shows that he wants his people to know him. No matter how his people behaved, God kept showing up – in Eden and the wilderness, in the Tabernacle and the Temple, in Bethlehem, at Pentecost….wherever they were, he went, and he displayed his power on their behalf. When they got themselves into trouble, he rescued them – from enemies, lions, whales, storms, slavery, bad choices, and evil kings.    

 What do you know about God?  How did you learn it?  May you walk so closely with him that you find your own story with him to share.  May your story with God become an inspiration to those around you to seek to know God better and find stories of their own.