(Grand)father God

I grew up in a pastor’s home, so right off the bat there are a number of cliche assumptions you can safely make about me. It’s true that I have a series of regrettable facial piercings and tattoos, a threadbare tolerance for interpersonal drama, a healthy dose of cynicism and a lightning-quick stink eye, a state-of-the-art emotional defense system and the tendency to preemptively strike, shock-and-awe-style, if I catch even a whiff of chicanery or back door dealings. Oh, did you get a new car? God bless. We’re wearing your hand-me-downs. 

We pastor’s kids all process life in the ministry differently. Some of us go to a therapist. Some of us go to prison. Some of us are 16 and dancing at Secrets, covered in orange juice and waiting for the t-shirt cannon to launch. I could write you a country music song about how pastor’s kids have front-row-center seats to the some of the less palatable aspects of human behavior or just say this: Until we invite Daddy’s Jesus to step off the Sunday School flannel board and into our own hearts, the feeling of spiritual entitlement mixed with the inability to process how your parents bear the weight of the ministry is  a heady combination that only God can slap some sense into.

“God has no grandchildren,” my dad used to always say. Yeah, God doesn’t have a pet goldfish either, Dad. But in reality, any kid- yours or mine- who grows up in a Christian home has a unique set of challenges. We don’t know what God saved us from. (A lot of us want to know, so watch out.) At what point does your God become our God? 

In Genesis 27, that little sneak Jacob had killed and prepped a lamb dinner for his blind father, passing it off as venison when his sweet, old dad, Isaac, asked how he’d found a deer so quickly. Jacob replied just like a pastor’s kid would: “Because the Lord your God brought it to me.” (v. 20) See that? We know how to speak the lingo.

Until this point, Jacob’s relationship to the Lord was piggybacking off of what his dad had. But “God has no grandchildren”. (Right, Dad?) It wasn’t until Jacob was at rock bottom, fleeing for his life from his understandably murderous brother that the Lord, in His love and patience, was finally able to speak- and Jacob was finally ready to listen. Jacob responded to the Lord saying, “If God will be with me…so that I return to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord will be my God.” (Genesis 28:21) 

All that to say this: You can run, but you literally can’t hide. (Psalm 139:7-12) There comes a point in everyone’s life when we have to decide to choose or reject God for ourselves, for our own reasons. There is no “grandfather clause” in Lamb’s Book of Life. Boom. No more blaming God for the hell that other Christians will launch you into here on earth. God created you for a purpose, a mission, if you will, should you choose to accept it. He’s but a whisper away.

Oh, and He doesn’t judge you for when you danced at Secrets covered in body glitter. I do though.

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