This week, on a whim, my daughter Bethany and I played hookey from home and ran out for a bit of evening shopping and a movie. (Okay, that's picture's not Bethany, it's Jordyn, but her and her daddy were so cute I just had to share!) We walked the mall, chatted about the upcoming school year, gasped over the price of the Hello Kitty backpack she wanted (no we didn't buy it!), picked out shirts for her sisters, and browsed through the earrings at Claires. Then, we munched Sour candy and Junior Mints through the final Harry Potter movie together. It was a great time, and I realized how much I enjoy spending time with my daughter. I could have done all those things alone, but it was much more fun with her along.
So I was reminded of a story that my husband, Bryan, told me about when he was a teen. Here's that story, which reminds me again of what God wants from ME (and you!):
Dad Vs. Godzilla (from Bryan):
“Aw, com’on Dad, not now,” I groaned, shifting my legs across the couch while flipping the channel between an old rerun of Godzilla and the pro bowler’s tour. “It’s Saturday. I wanna relax.” I sensed the last word coming out with a bit of a whine and winced. I didn’t want Dad to think I was a whiner.
Dad sighed and went back to the garage. I could tell he was disappointed. He wanted me to help him with his old Chevy Caprice, but it was Saturday, my day to kick back and enjoy lethargy. It had been a hard week, I told myself. Practice had been tough, and my classes not much easier. I was tired. I deserved a rest. I owed it to myself to take a day off and do nothing. Besides, I didn’t know anything about cars anyway, at least compared to my Dad. He didn’t really need my help.
Some tools clanked in the garage as my Dad began the work. I felt my conscience prick me, but I squashed it down. The pillow behind my head felt good. I stretched my arms up and let out a long sigh, allowing my muscles to melt into a shallow pool of leisure.
What did Dad want my help for anyway? He could do just fine without me. I flicked the remote control again and watched Godzilla stomp through Tokyo. Smash, crash, roar ... the same ol’ Godzilla. Flipping off the TV, I closed my eyes. This was the life—complete relaxation.
My eyes were closed for about two seconds before my conscience started to jab at me again. What would it hurt to help Dad for a little while? Maybe I should at least go out and see what he was doing. Or maybe I should just forget it and let Dad do his thing? I didn’t care about that old, dilapidated Chevy. A Ferrari, maybe, but a Caprice? Even Godzilla was exciting compared to that. I rolled over and slammed the pillow over my head. Sounds of tools jingling in the garage still assaulted my ears. A groan erupted from deep in my throat. “It’s Saturday,” I reminded myself, “I just want to kick back.”
My head bounced up with a jolt as a sudden impact hit the couch. I peeked from under my pillow with a growl and saw Mom sitting about a foot from me, a huge load of laundry piled at her side. She sat staring at me for a moment, then proceeded to start folding socks. I buried my head again. Mom looked at me and remained silent. Something was wrong.
The clang of a large wrench on cement startled both of us. I looked apprehensively at Mom. Her eyes were on me again, with that troubled look that made me uncomfortable. My eyes slid down to contemplate the floor.
“He just wants to spend time with you,” she murmured, her eyes flitting back to the pair of socks in her hand. That was all. With one last look, she stood up and went to the kitchen, her words still ringing in my ears.
“He just wants to spend time with you.” I lay back and thought about that, suspecting that what Mom said was true. I was lucky to have a father that loved me enough to want to do things with me. Lots of my friends had fathers who worked all the time or were never home for one reason or another. My best friend didn’t have any father at all.
Suddenly, I felt like a heel. It was true that Dad didn’t need my help, and he certainly didn’t need my expertise, but he did want my company. And I had groaned and whined and chosen Godzilla over my Dad. My head buried itself into the pillow again.
I sighed. There was only one thing left to do, go out and help Dad. Slowly, I flung my feet to the floor and trudged out to the garage.
“Hi Dad,” I muttered. “What do ya want me to do?” The words came more enthusiastic than I felt.
Dad pulled his head out from under the engine and wiped the back of one greasy hand over his forehead. Slowly, a big smile of delight replaced the sad look that had been on his face moments before.
“Hey, son,” Dad grinned back at me. “Grab me a five eighths wrench over there,” he motioned to the tool box with his chin, his hands embedded again in the Chevy’s engine.
I rolled up my sleeves and hurried to get the wrench. For the rest of the day, Dad and I worked side by side, sweating, grunting, and sharing little bits of our thoughts over the old engine. By the end of the day, my face was as grease smeared as Dad’s, and I had a long tear in my shirt where the Chevy had gotten the better of me. But, the time with Dad had been worth it. It had been a great day, much better than reruns of Godzilla.
The next day, as I sat in church and listened to my Pastor speak about how God has adopted us as sons, I thought about my day with Dad. Was my Heavenly Father like my earthly one? Did He ask me to do things, like come to church and help out with youth activities just because He wanted to spend time with me? It was a startling thought.
Maybe God didn’t need my help at all, but He wanted it anyway—just like Dad. God could do anything He wanted without my help, but maybe He wanted me to be involved with the things He was doing just so I could spend time with Him, and come out looking like Him at the end of the job.
How many times did I miss out on God’s fellowship because I didn’t want to bother to do what He was doing? How many times had I shrugged aside my relationship with my Heavenly Father for things that were as stupid as Godzilla reruns? All of a sudden, little excuses like “I’m too tired,” “I do enough already,” and “My help isn’t really needed anyway,” seemed silly to me. How could a person be too tired for God, or get too much time with Him?
That was many years ago now. But today God’s reasons for wanting me to do ministry have stayed the same. I’m still just the son who He longs to spend time with. Now I know that God cares a lot more about me and my relationship with Him than He does about how much I can do, or how well I can do it. It’s not my abilities He wants as much as my companionship. And what can be better than spending time with God, the Creator of all the Universe, who could have and do anything He wants, and what He wants most is ME!
Needless to say, I don’t watch much Godzilla anymore. Instead, I grab the tools and say, “Let’s go!” whether it’s Saturday or not.