by Beth Jones
Good Good Father
When I was in high school, I got a speeding ticket. I was driving to a youth retreat at Summerdean Church of the Brethren when an officer suddenly appeared in my rearview mirror somewhere around Rocky Mount. My heart sank. The worst part wasn’t the moment I saw the flashing lights or the moment I realized that I definitely was not getting out of there with just a warning. No, the worst part was in the moments that followed—the moments of knowing that I had messed up and needed to call my parents.
The youth led the church service at the end of the retreat that weekend, and my dad drove nearly two and a half hours to be in the congregation. I spent that entire service anticipating his reaction. Would he be mad, upset, frustrated? Would he yell, take away my keys, shake his head in disappointment?
Quite the opposite, actually. He looked at the ticket for what seemed like an eternity … and then he hugged me. I came to him with embarrassment and shame over a mistake I had made, and instead of lecturing me on how I should know better, he pulled me into his arms and said that we would get it sorted out — together.
Religion says, “I messed up. My dad’s gonna kill me.” But the Gospel says, “I messed up. I need to call my dad.”
I saw that quote online recently and it reminded me of the Good, Good Father skit during Sunday morning worship at Pilgrimage. Have you ever found yourself face down on the ground with nothing to give but a torn, crumpled heart? Have you ever feared that you were too damaged, too sinful, too far gone for God to even see you? Or perhaps worse—have you ever feared that He could see you and wanted nothing to do with your brokenness? I messed up. My Dad’s gonna kill me.
As Elaine shared in her talk on God’s grace and friendship, when we cry out in our shame, our fear—our wet, dirty, complete lostness—God doesn’t come saying, “Well, how did this happen?” or “Look at the mess you have made of yourself” or “I knew you would mess up!” The God who chases us down, fights ’til we’re found, leaves the ninety-nine? He takes one look at our mess, our mistakes, our crumpled hearts — and He says that we are worth His sacrifice. He says there’s no shadow He won’t light up or mountain He won’t climb up coming after us. I messed up. I need to call my Dad.
Friends, we serve a good, good father — one who sees you and fights for you. He is perfect in all of His ways, and you are so deeply loved by Him.