I’m about to tell you a story that has made more of a difference in my life than almost any other story I know. It has taught me a whole lot about being Eden’s daddy, and it has taught me a whole lot about being God’s son.
“I once heard a story of a father who took his son camping. They had spent time planning the trip for many weeks. The son had carefully filled his small pack and waited on the front steps for his dad to arrive home from work so their journey could begin. The plan called for the father and son to hike a few miles up the mountain to make camp before sunset. But things ran late at work and traffic was heavy on the way out of town. During the drive the father rubbed his temple, cursed the traffic and turned that baseball game on the radio. The son never took his eyes off his father. When they started their hike, the father was impatient. His son had to stop to use the bathroom, then to ties his shoe. At one point the son stopped to watch a snake poke its head in and out of its hole. The father grew impatient and urged his son to hurry. They had to make it to the campsite. The father walked faster. The son had to almost run to keep up. At times the father had to verbally push and drag him along so they could move even faster. When they did get to camp, the father hurried to pitch the tent and warm a can of soup. Through the glow of the hastily made fire, he caught a glimpse of his weary son asleep on the ground, with tear stains on his cheeks. At that moment, he knew he had missed it. He may have reached the destination, but he had missed the journey.”
—Tim Bohlke, Harbor Seven
Initially, this story hit me hard because I’m a father. And as a father I realize that I have committed this same mistake a time or two or seven. I have sadly preoccupied the destination over the journey.
At the same time, what is also emerging into focus the more time I spend contemplating this story is that I also do the same thing with God. I have all of these hopes and dreams and desires. All of them are “good.” They almost all involve being devoted to God, learning more about who God made me to be, and generously serving others; you know, the greatest commandments. Yet, all of my “good” plans are sometimes more of a destination than a journey. There are even times they provoke anxiety! (Which should be a dead giveaway that they are projection of my own agenda, but alas, it keeps happening, ugh.)
How would you feel if I told you that you were God’s father and God was your young son? That God is so eager just to spend time with you? That there’s nothing you have to bring to the table, or the trail, except yourself? That’s all God desires. Just you. Time with you. Because you are what God loves. That God is just so happy when you take God’s hand and simply meander along the trail.
Sometimes the destination gets in the way, doesn’t it? Sometimes we get so fixated on a what ours and our family’s future should look like, that we completely miss the sacred moments of the present. But as Jacques Philippe said, “the best way to prepare for the future is to put our heart into the present.”
So, my brothers and sisters, may you trust that you are God’s special treasure. That God desires you as a beloved child desires their mommy or daddy. That there are truckloads of joy, and peace, and hope just waiting to engulf you. Not sometime later. Right now.
There’s nothing you could ever do to make God love you any less. And there’s nothing you could ever do to make God love you any more because you already have it. All of it. And you’re never getting rid of it.