At the end of last year, Amanda and I planned a surprise trip for the family. We were able to pack up during the week without them ever knowing we were doing it.
When we had breakfast that morning, I said, “Kids, I really love my job, but I hate that I miss you when I go to work. How about I just take today off? How does that sound?”
With much exuberance, they stroked my ego at the healthiest of dosages, and then the questions and suggestions began to come from every seat at the breakfast table.
“All of those are great ideas, but let’s just get in the van and start driving. How does that sound?”
The mad rush to get shoes on was exhilarating. We were off on our surprise journey in no time.
As we drove, I confessed to them I had a plan all along. “Mom and I have planned a very special trip for us. It is going to be somewhere great and we are going to have a fantastic time together. Where do you think we are going?”
I didn’t really expect them to get the answer correct, but I also didn’t expect to receive what responses I got.
“That would be fun, but we can go bowling anytime.”
“But Dad, I love to go bowling.”
“I understand, but think bigger.”
“Are we going putt-putt?”
“But I want to go putt-putt.”
“Just really dig in here, I’m not driving 2 1/2 hours to do something we can do down the road.”
Obadiah has this look of satisfaction as if he has come to the perfect answer. “K-Mart. Dad, are you taking us to K-Mart?”
This post has nothing to do with a disdain for K-Mart. I have always been a fan. I enjoy shopping there. It is a very helpful store. My best buddy, OG, works at K-Mart. Hear me say I am not dissing K-Mart.
I was tragically discouraged with the fact that my son thought my best effort at a family vacation was taking them to K-Mart to buy some trinket.
“No, son, I am not taking you to K-Mart.”
Here was the moment when the truth was revealed:
So, after a 2 1/2 hour trip up the road, we had successfully arrived at the Great Wolf Lodge (an indoor water park and hotel and basically every child’s dream come true) and the entire thing was a great surprise. We had a great winter mini-vacation as a family.
And thankfully, the family thought it was better than K-Mart.
“How Much More”
While I wanted to blame my son’s lack of imagination for where we could go, in reality, his problem was that he had a low perception of his father.
His expectation of what he could do was completely wrapped up in what his father could or would do.
You see where all this is heading?
Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Too often I ask for bread and think God is going to give me a stone. I desire a fish and I assume God is going to deliver a serpent. I would love to go to the Great Wolf Lodge, but I assume he is taking me to K-Mart.
Oh, shame on me for how often I fail to see God for the good Father that he truly is.
If you are a child of God, your Father is not out to get you. Yes, he will discipline you because he loves you (Heb. 12:7-11), but stop acting like he is against you (Rom. 8:31-32).
We have a great Father who likes to give good gifts (James 1:17). He loves to bestow love upon his children (1 John 3:1). He desired to adopt us into his family (Eph. 1:5). His love is so great he likes to sing loudly over us (Zeph. 3:17).
Stop living like God is a stiff father-figure. He is an intentional, close daddy eager to care for his child.
When you pray to him, stop making him pay for others’ mistakes. He is not like those people who have let you down. He is not like those people who make empty promises. He is not like those fair-weather relationships in your life.
He is a good, loving, joyful Father and he loves you. Stop assuming he is taking you to K-Mart when he has far greater places to take you. Wake up and remember who your Father is.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.