I must admit I am starting to feel like that grumpy old man who sits on his front porch and yells at teenagers who stray off the road and onto my grass. Who do they think they are anyway? I paid my dues, I paid for that lawn, and I paid for their education through my taxes, the least they could do is show some respect!
Okay, I’m not that bad.
Still, with each passing year I find my patience with teenagers and for that matter those twenty somethings, is starting to thin just like my hair. If I took a moment to remember back to my teens and my twenties I may become a little more understanding. I was also rebellious and disrespectful. I knew better than those old people, I didn’t need their advice, after all I had lived on this planet for more than 15 years!
What a difference a few years can make.
My children did it. My grandchildren do it. I probably should enjoy these moments more but let’s face it being followed around by a little helper who just wants you to answer their continuous one word question, “why?” as they grab your tools and lend a not so coordinated hand can be a bit annoying.
It isn’t long before they go from wonderment over everything you do to telling you to stop embarrassing them.
You no longer are looked up to as an expert on the way the world works but rather snickered at because you just don’t have a clue.
Their reliance on you for everything from food to clothes, from shelter to transportation, from money to advice becomes reliance on you for everything from food to clothes, from shelter to transportation, from money to more money to more money but please don’t offer advice because you’re too old to understand.
You too can and possibly are reliving your teenage years no matter how far beyond them you are.
At one time you asked your Father for advice, you pestered Him with questions about how things work. You wanted to be a part of whatever He was doing. You may not have been so coordinated and maybe He was a little annoyed but He never did stop loving you or involving you in what He was doing.
Now the wonderment is gone and you choose when to admit that He is your father because sometimes you’re a little embarrassed of Him.
You rarely look to Him as the expert on anything; you act as if He really doesn’t have a clue.
Just because you no longer ask Him for advice and direction doesn’t mean you’ve stopped going to Him for other things. When you are in need of food, clothes, shelter, transportation, money and health He is the first one you reach out to but isn’t that what most teenagers do?
As an earthly father I want my kids to move beyond needing me and beyond rebelling against me.
Every metaphor breaks down when taken to its logical end. When Jesus painted a picture of the father-child relationship it was never intended to be taken beyond that point. Maturity in our Christ following journey is not moving away from needing our Heavenly Father but, for lack of a better metaphor, it is becoming so dependent on Him, so helpless without Him, that we are akin to babies. Surrender not independence is the mark of a maturing follower of Christ.
As Christ followers we are more likely to move beyond needing our Heavenly Father to rebelling against Him.
I never want to insinuate that the Bible is incomplete: that the metaphors Jesus told somehow lacked. The truth is, if Jesus had referenced teenagers and rebellion when He walked this earth over 2000 years ago, those who heard Him speak would most likely not understand simply because there was no cultural equivalent. You were a boy or girl then a man or woman and rebellion against your parents was not an option.
If Jesus were teaching using metaphors today, my guess is His references to childlike faith rather than adult independence would also include references to teenage rebellion. We are prone to embarrassment about our Heavenly Father and faith because we are called to live differently than the in-crowd and prone to act independently because we want to feel as if we are grown up enough to do it on our own.
God never yells at us to get off His lawn.
God isn’t a grumpy old man sitting on the front porch of heaven saying I paid more than my fair share (Jesus’ death), I created your planet, I educated you about the most important things in life at no expense, the least you could do is show some respect and get off my lawn!
We are invited in the midst of our rebellion, not to grow up but to grow down, not to get off the lawn but to come into the home, to stop being teenagers who think they have it all figured out and become children, babies, that rely on their Heavenly Father for everything.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17 (NIV)