“Shut the door Segs, shut the door,” said my brother, still reeling in laughter at the outfit dad had chosen to wear to his friend’s birthday party. Not only was his native attire absurdly plain but the trousers were way too short.
“But this is fine kids. It’s just a birthday dinner. You know I don’t like making a fuss. Please allow me to go as I am,” said dad, pleading with his four youngest to let him go out in peace.
Typical dad! With simplicity being his middle name he was never one for fashion statements.
But we relented. My younger sister sauntered through his cupboard until she found something far more appropriate. We also insisted on him changing his shoes. Only after we were fully satisfied and suitably pleased did we finally unlock the door, much to dad’s relief and delight. I’ve never seen someone walk out of a room so quickly! Almost as though he feared being held up again for not combing his hair or something. But when he got to the door he turned around and said something I will never forget.
“You know, I love the fact you kids are so free with me. That’s the way it should be.”
But re-wind five years and a very different relationship existed. As a consequence of his being a member of a church that can only described as wickedly intrusive and controlling, we feared him and usually kept our distance. Not to say we didn’t love him. We did. And he loved us. But there was no relationship – just ‘do this’ and ‘do that’.
Authority and fear ruled the roost.
During this period we rarely spent time at home. We schooled abroad and were loathe to coming home for the holidays. We much preferred to keep our distance so as to hold on tight to our freedom. But if you asked me if I was happy during this period my answer would be a hearty ‘No’.
Because despite all the freedom and fun of partying from Cheltenham to London, that peace of mind and security which comes from a good relationship with one’s father was missing. Ask me which period I prefer – partying mindlessly in the UK or spending time in Lagos with mum and dad, and my answer would definitely be the latter – or at the very least a respectable balance of both, as I suspect it would be for most people.
There’s a huge similarity between that relationship of Authority, Fear, and Obedience that we had with our dad, and the one many Christians have with God. As a result of the relationship being dominated by fear there’s very little room for Love, Peace, and Security.
God is ‘Love’, and ‘Love’ wants us to be free with Him.
It is only when we feel free with God that we’re able to have a loving relationship with Him.
The key to being free with God is accepting and embracing the simple fact that He Loves You Unconditionally and Completely. In-fact so much so that not only did he die for you – “The good Shepard lays down His life for the sheep,” (John 10 vs 11) – but He also guarantees that nobody can ever take you away from Him – ” My father, who has given them to me is greater than all; no-one can snatch them out of my father’s hands (John 10 vs 29).
Start seeing God in a different light – as He truly is – The One who loves you unconditionally; and Who’s love is unfailing.