Rethinking the Father-Son Relationship: A lesson learned from an unlikely bunch

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What will probably be one of the most important lessons I’ll ever learn in life finally came through to me.

It clicked for me in late July, so it wasn’t too long ago. And oh, how I wish I could say I learned it from the words of my parents or a soul-convicting sermon delivered on Sunday at church–but either case would be far from the truth. In fact, as shocking as this may sound…

I actually learned it from a couple of kids.

Yes.

The ones that can walk and talk, poke and joke, and ask questions they shouldn’t be asking(yet).

So last year I was blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at a summer kids’ camp that a friend of mine was organizing. For the whole month of July, two days each week, I helped out with a group aged 8-12 and I must say–it was an awesome experience. The kids were shockingly teachable, weren’t wasteful with food, respected one another, and just behaved like absolute all-star kids. Like, you have no idea. I was so impressed that I shook hands with a mother of one of the kids in my group to commend her for what I knew was the epitome of Godly parenting.

And so, with the addition of this priceless panorama of joy-filled memories, I thought to myself: I have to help out again next year! Or so I thought…

Unfortunately, I signed up for a totally different ball-game. This year’s batch of kids were nothing short of monstrous–a nightmare dreamers would pray for deliverance from. These kids were wasteful with food, made filthy jokes I never thought kids at this age would understand, disobeyed me just for the sake of it, had little respect for other kids (not to mention the teachers), and were just plain brats altogether. When the main camp organizer asked me to nominate the best-behaved child in our class, I just shook my head and told her: “We’d be picking the best out of the worst.”

These rascals simply drove me nuts. My temper neared breaking point on numerous occasions, but one instance caught me really off-guard. That is when this dialogue took place:

Me: Guys, stop yelling. Lets use our indoor voices okay?
Kid: Jackie, we don’t like you, we want a new teacher!
Me: …

After that last piece of dialogue, my heart just sunk. It kind of reminded me of when the Leafs gave up a 3-0 lead in a single period and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Bruins. I remember I just walked up straight upstairs after the game to my room and sat there, staring at the blank ceiling, trying to think of excuses to get them off the hook. I mean, it didn’t make me want to hide from life, but in those first 20 minutes, I really felt lost, heartbroken. All the time I poured into supporting them just trickled down the drain. I was in disbelief.

So when the kids said what they said, it actually made me think: How does God feel when I prostitute myself to things and people that I know cannot fill the void in my heart? I can’t even imagine. Like, I wonder. Pouring all my time, money, thoughts, and strength into someone. You know what’s good for them, and that’s exactly what you give them. But in the end, they reject it all, and go on seeking things that’re bad for them. How much would it hurt a father to watch? What I basically did, was cut off my relationship with my dad and put other things and people in His place. That’s why I can now better comprehend the anger of God in the bible when His people seek after other gods and mock His commandments.

To say the least, this interaction made me deeply ponder about the recent sins that I had committed. I tried to complete myself by investing in worldly, adulterous passions and looking back on it now–I’m sickened by myself. Like, it must’ve ripped the heart of God right open when I went out like the Lost Son (Luke 15) looking for worldly treasures when His greatest possession had already been given to me–and that’s Himself. He came in the form of His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross 2,000 years ago to save me from my sins to reconcile me back to Himself, while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).

According to the apostle Paul, in 2Corinthians 5:17, we have been declared “new creations.” The righteousness of Christ is clothed over us and we’ve been regenerated. The Father has taken us, His lost sons and daughters back! We do not have to go out to seek other things. We ought not to return again to the pig pen, the places where darkness dwells. We ought not to return to our old vomit. The heart of the Father only breaks more when we do.

The fact is that rejection of a child towards their father is hard to take. Even as someone who was just a teacher over these kids, I got a glimpse of how hard it would be for a father to take those words. It’s hard. And so what I take home from all this is that when we do, say, or think something outside of God’s desire for us, we’re not just breaking rules and commandments, but we’re making a statement on how we view our relationship with Him. When we sin, we’re essentially saying that He’s a bad father and as a result, we end up looking for other wells to meet our cravings, only to find that we’ll only thirst again. The reality is that it’s about more than just rules, but a relationship.

Praise God for using these kids to teach me such a simple yet profound lesson. It has made me rethink every action as proclamations on my relationship with not only my heavenly Father, but also my earthly father. Like, when I come home late with poor reasons, or wait days before I actually do what he says, what do these actions really say? it just shows a lack of love towards my father. As I said, it’s not so much the rule-breaking, but the relationship straining part of it.

After this lesson hitting me, there’s been a major shift in how I view all of my actions. I’ll probably talk more about it in future posts, but until then…

Shalom readers.

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