Last Sunday, we heard Jesus’ farewell address, also known as the Great Commission. Matthew’s Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (my italics)
Recently, I went to the beach at Tybee Island with my children. For much of the time, I was reading a book regarding creative worship. Still, I never forgot about my responsibility to my children. And when they left their sandcastle behind and headed for the water, I was not far behind. Liam, age 13, required little supervision. I was able to watch him from a distance, ask him from time to time if he was okay, and remind him that the current was pushing him toward some large rocks that he would be wise to avoid. Liam understood my desire to keep him safe, and he easily complied with my instructions.
Nate, age 7, wanted me close. Really close. He, too, understood his limits and was cautious to keep his head from going under. On several occasions, when the waves were a bit too high for his liking, he threw his arms around me to keep the current from knocking him over.
That day, I was “with” each of my children, but in slightly different ways. I provided for each of them according to their individual needs and in keeping with what they requested from me. Had Liam asked me for more attention, assistance, etc., I certainly would have provided it. And, later, I was grateful to have some individual time with my older son as we sat in beach chairs while Nate waded in some very shallow water.
I like to imagine God as an attentive parent, providing guidance in accordance with our needs and our desire to be in relationship in that moment. God does not force that relationship upon us. Rather, as God’s children, we recognize the benefit and blessing of God’s lifelong instruction and companionship. And for that, we give thanks.