Just the other day...a much smaller version of myself sat across from my dad at the local Wendy's restaurant in our small town. I was probably about 10 or 11 years old. It was a Sunday night tradition to eat one of two places after church, there or at the Dairy Queen just down the street. Our topic of conversation was not pleasant, it was painful, in fact. I vividly recall questioning something I had heard in the sermon that night and remember my sweet daddy trying to set my incorrect thinking straight...
His words went something like this, "You misunderstood. God is not vindictive or angry, Becky. He is not waiting for you to mess up so He can squash you or point a finger at you and say, 'I told you so!'...He loves you so much and has good things planned for you."
Those are words that have played over and over in my head for years. When I remember that conversation, it's almost like I'm an outsider looking in. I can see it, feel it...smell it even. I remember the intense eagerness to believe it with all of my heart, that night and many nights since.
It has been a fight my entire life to believe that there is grace for me, that God is "okay" with me messing up and making mistakes. Not only that, but I've had a hard time believing in His goodness...that He is just good to me, well, because it's His character and He simply wants to be! I fight the false thinking that I have to work for every reward and be good enough to avoid His anger. If you could listen in on my thoughts, they might sound like this -- "Am I doing enough for you, God? Am I disappointing You? You must really hate it when I ______ or _______. I'm so sorry I'm not living up to all I should be. I wish I could do better, BE better, blah, blah, blah." The rhetoric sometimes goes on and on.
On a recent day at the beach, much of the same conversation with God took place. We had taken an early vacation just before the craziness of our much-too-packed summer began. I was walking down the boardwalk, having similar thoughts, wanting so much to please God but not knowing how to do so...wanting to feel worthy of His love, I guess. And, just as He always does, God sweetly began reassuring me and loving on me and telling me over and over about His goodness. He began to tear down my excuses (see above list). He let me know that He delighted in showering me with good things, just because, and that every fear that I had was unfounded and NOT of Him.
And then He did something absolutely spectacular to prove His point.
We had heard that this particular beach was known for having dolphins nearby, and if you know anything about my middle child, you know she is mildly obsessed with the creatures. Well, this was the last day of our vacation and we still had not seen any, though we had looked and looked. The night before, I had quickly prayed, "God, will you please let Kylee see a dolphin before we leave?"
So there I was, walking along listening to God remind me about His goodness and by this point we had reached the beach. My husband and kids were still walking towards the water and I stopped, glanced out at the waves, and immediately my eyes fell on two dorsal fins gracefully breaking the surface.
NO WAY, I thought!
I quickly pointed and yelled for my family to look. Within minutes, they saw them, too. They excitedly ran along the water's edge, trying to get a closer look. Very soon it became apparent...there were not just two dolphins, but SIX!!
I jumped up and down, laughing out loud like a kid at Christmas, so very excited!! There was hardly anyone else on the beach. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sky was bright blue with fluffy white clouds. The water sparkled all around the majestic creatures passing us by. It was picture-perfect, like a scene right out of a movie!
The intensity of that moment hit me like a ton of bricks.
In utter awe of my God I stood there and let His goodness overwhelm me, like waves crashing over my soul, as He brought my request to mind. I did not just let a single tear roll down my cheek. No. I sobbed like a baby on that beach, overcome with the awesomeness of Him. Who am I, that the Creator would command His dolphins to come, just because I very quickly requested them the night before? More importantly, what does that say about the heart of the One who cares so deeply about each one of us?!
In that moment, it is as if God simply wanted to give me a tangible, in real life, picture of His of GOODNESS. It didn't come because I had labored in hours of prayer, nor because I had given all my wealth to the poor. It didn't come because I had been a perfect wife and mother that day, nor because I had a global ministry reaching thousands. It didn't come because I teach an Sunday School class, tithe faithfully, or share the gospel message with 25 people per week.
That moment came because God cared that I was struggling a bit with doubts about His character. Again. For the bazillionth time in my 37 years on this earth, even though I know the truth. And He didn't roll His eyes and say, "Here we go again" either.
He said, "My daughter is hurting and I'm going to fix it."
And He did.
Because that's what Fathers do.
"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives." Psalm 37:23
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