Christmas at our house had a different feel this year. With one child moved out, another still away at college in another state, and the youngest two in high school and busy with their own pursuits, there just wasn’t as much interest (or availability) for decking the halls, buying new Christmas socks, making cookies, or piling on the couch to watch holiday favorites on TV. Of course, as I have said to the kids so many times before, ‘Different doesn’t mean bad. It just means different.’ So, I worked hard at being flexible enough to accommodate shifting schedules and do what the kids want to do without insisting on stiff traditions that may no longer fit our maturing family. But I did find myself pondering the ever-changing nature of the role of a parent.
A new mom or dad is instantly and completely responsible for every need an infant has. Food, clothing, shelter, and protection must be attended to constantly since in those early days a newborn cannot even move himself from one place to another. However, as the child grows in physical and cognitive maturity, parents have to incrementally shift away from the position of persistent provider and transition to the more nuanced role of teacher, giving specific counsel to the child as he or she takes on more and more personal responsibility and judgment. Once reaching adulthood, the parental role shifts again… no longer serving as provider or guide, but hopefully, becoming mentor and friend.
While that’s a completely normal process for a healthy parent-child relationship, sometimes we make the mistake of striving for a similar dynamic with our heavenly Father.
The scriptures declare the Lord to be our Everlasting Father. (Is 9:6) That means that once we begin a relationship with Him through faith in Christ, it never changes. While we definitely grow in our faith and gain experience in our walk with Him, we will never mature beyond our need for God’s attention, never move beyond His protective care, and will never outgrow our reliance on Him for guidance. Instead of incrementally progressing toward a state of independence, the more we know Him, the more dependent on Him we should become!
If you experienced a ‘different’ kind of Christmas this year and anticipate a different kind of life ahead, be comforted by your Everlasting Father. Remember that He always craves time with you. Take delight in Him just as a small child delights in the affection of his earthly father because the promise for believers in Jesus is that Your God will ‘never leave you nor forsake you.’
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and His righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.