Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sometimes God Doesn't Listen

I can only remember two times in my life when my father physically disciplined me.  Once was when I refused (as an obstinate ten year old) to play the piano for some guests when we were visiting my grandparents' home.  He told me in a whisper that he would settle up with me when we arrived home.  I hurriedly got into bed upon arrival at my house, but he didn't forget his promise.  The other time was when I disrespectfully talked back to my mother at the dinner table.

I believe I can remember these so vividly not because my father was excessive in his discipline but rather because he rarely used this approach.  It wasn't because I was a model child either, but rather he was a model father - a father I really didn't fully appreciate until much later in life.

My father, I was later able to realize, was a true image of what God our Father is.  In the Book of Chronicles we read:
...All the princes of Judah, the priests and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord's temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.  Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place.  But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets....   (2 Chron. 36: 14-16a)

Even after all of their sins, as we know, God brought them back from exile.  John tells us in his Gospel that: God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.  (John 3: 17).

Why do we need to be saved?  It is because of our basic human condition which is one of sin - sin which some writers have referred to as idolatry.

What are our idols?  Is out idol perhaps money?  Are we so caught up in possessing as much of the world's goods that we can amass that we lose sight of more important things?

Maybe our idol is sex and sexual gratification.  Do we exploit other human beings in our attempt to satisfy our own urges, or do we respect the sexuality of others?  Is our idol power?  Do we enjoy lording it over others and having the ability to make people do just what we want without concern for their feelings?  Or perhaps our idol is righteousness.  We can really do no wrong; it's only "those" people who are always to blame for whatever isn't right.

God calls us to repentance, something we should think more about during this season of Lent.  All he asks of us is to allow him to be what he wants to be in our lives.  The Chronicler understood God's mercy.  John reminds us that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" to be our salvation.

One of my favorite Scripture stories is the parable of the Prodigal Son.  A few years ago I cam across a poem by someone entitled Sometimes God Doesn't Listen.  I cannot give the proper credit for it, but I think it well describes how our God acts toward us:

The Prodigal prepared a speech:
How awful he felt about himself; what awful things he'd done.
Then he planned to start it:  "I don't deserve to be your son."

But his father threw his arms around him, interrupted him.
"You're back!  Let's throw a party!

Thank goodness sometimes God doesn't listen.

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