look here

I am at home with our 8 month old daughter, Sadie.  My wife has our 2 older girls at the dentist for check-ups.   I have been rolling around on the floor with Sadie, playing and trying to make her laugh.  I am also using this time to help her work on her vocabulary, primarily the all important word “da-da.”  She has been able to say it for a couple weeks now, but I am trying to up the frequency of this glorious utterance.

This is only my second time to have Sadie all alone, so it is fun to have some “one-on-one” time without any distractions. I love it when I know I have her attention.  I try to hold it as long as possible, the only problem is, there are SO many distractions. An object doesn’t need to do anything more than wiggle or be shiny in order to completely steal her attention away from me. In fact, my competitors are not limited to those who can move or shine; I am up against any and all things that are small enough to fit in her hand, anything that can be chewed on, anything that makes noise, anything that can be banged against something else, anything that is in arms reach, anything that is colorful…Basically, everything else in the room has the potential to be more interesting than me.

But how can this be?!?  I am her dad! How do I keep losing out to small plastic things? Even when I am trying to feed her, and I have what she needs and wants she keeps getting distracted from me!

I can’t help but see the similarity between her and I.  And not just because she is my daughter and incredibly cute, but because I get distracted from my father pretty easily as well.

Just like her I am surrounded by things that compete to take my eyes off of my Dad.  When I take the time to think about it, my life is full of things that are all too capable of becoming distractions; work, bills, television, working out, fantasy football, facebook, friends…   Things that aren’t in themselves bad can become bad when they distract me from Him.

I know that my desire to have my daughter look at me is a silly analogy. It is basically just a dad who enjoys having his daughter’s attention. But when it comes fixing our eyes on the Lord, the stakes are a good bit higher. Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily entangles us. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  We are talking about some pretty serisous things here.  This verse is talking about things in our lives that will tangle us up and slow us down. It is talking about getting rid of things in our lives that will prevent us from being the man or woman God had called us to be, or worse yet, stop us keep us from being a man or woman of God all together.

Thankfully, the writer continues and tells us exactly how to avoid these potential disasters.  Hebrews 12:2, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the originator and perfecter of our faith.”

Fixing my “eyes” on the Lord is not simply so he can feel good about himself, although I believe he does enjoy it.  It is a safe guard against things that weigh me down, slow me down, entangle me and hinder me.

reconcile

I grew up in a Christian home with every opportunity to learn about God. I was in church regularly, usually more than once a week, and I genuinely enjoyed it.  I loved God and understood that he loved me. Somewhere along the line, however, I became distracted.  During my last couple years of high school and my first year of college God and I became “estranged.”

God has a lot of different reputations.  Without taking the time or space to try to list the many different takes people have on God, I would like to address one of them.  There are some who believe God to be angry and cruel.  I even know believers who perceive God to be waiting and watching for an excuse to bring condemnation down and to exclude as many people from his family as possible.  That has not been my experience at all.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  While having plenty of good reason to condemn us, God has gone out of his way to reconcile us to himself.

I was reading in 2 Samuel this morning.  In the events that unfold in chapters 13 and 14 David’s son, Absalom, ends up banished from the king’s presence.  As Joab attempts to reconcile Absalom and King David there is a line uttered that I think is a beautiful depiction of God’s character.

“But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.” 2 Samuel 14:14

I was, at one point, “estranged” from the King.  I was no longer close to him.  I was not affectionate toward him.  I had become alienated from him. That is no longer the case. Because even while I was pursuing sin and distancing myself from him, he was devising ways to reconcile me to himself.

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.” (Eph 2:4–5)