In a teenager’s eyes, sometimes the parent appears as a daunting obstacle to freedom, a task master laying down rule after rule in pure enjoyment of squishing every joy from her life. This definitely colors the relationship between teen and mom or dad. Her preconceived notions of automatic “no’s” and restrictions may cause her to just decide to do something without asking, ask with angry defenses standing tall, or buck and kick against it all like a wild bronco. In truth, the parents are laying boundaries out of love. They don’t enjoy holding her back from fun and friends. They want the absolute best for her. Helping her learn to live responsibly and submit to authority is key. Staying within those lines drawn by her parents, she will actually experience real freedom. It seems backwards but it’s true.
What if instead of thinking of God as a God of “no’s”, rules, and restriction we saw Him for who he really is? He’s a Father whose very heart is love and compassion, who knows the best route for each of us to take, who longs for us to live in ultimate freedom of soul and spirit. It would change our relationship with Him if we stopped thinking of Him as a God of denial and harsh expectations and see Him as a God of Open Doors, a God of “Yes”, a God of expectancy and possibility.
How do we do this? I’m not exactly sure. I believe most of it is a choice. We choose to think of the answers and direction He gives us in a positive light instead of as punishment.
During the end of my sophomore year of college I auditioned for a singing/acting troupe that would be touring the country for the summer. There were only four spaces open but I felt confident about being chosen. I loved to sing and had friends already on the troupe, knew the professor who was holding the auditions, and so on. A few days following my audition I got a letter from him saying they had chosen other students for the troupe. Well, thank you very much! I was so disappointed, but for some reason (must have been God’s voice) I had the thought, “That just means God has something different for me this summer. I know it will be good.” I then applied for a counselor position at a family camp in the San Bernandino mountains of California and got the job! I spent one of the absolute best summers of my growing up life there, taking giant steps as I grew closer to Jesus and depended on Him more, making many new friends, working really hard, and enjoying the breathtaking beauty of the camp. See? God had a plan. It was different from the one I had but it was really good! Instead of becoming bitter when I was rejected for something I thought I wanted, He helped me to think of possibilities, to think of Him as saying “Yes” to something else for me.
As we walk this latest stretch of our path, we are choosing to try walking through doors more and not being afraid God is going to slam it shut. He might. But He might not! What makes us so afraid, thinking He’s so ready to turn us down or block us from opportunities?
Our God is a God of open doors, of dreams and hope, of compassion, love, and freedom!
Help me, God, to see You for who You really are, to look to you expectantly and with hope, not fear or defensiveness. You are good.
Let your love, God, shape my life
with salvation, exactly as you promised;
Then I’ll be able to stand up to mockery
because I trusted your Word.
Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever—
your commandments are what I depend on.
Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me,
guard it now, guard it ever;
And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces
as I look for your truth and your wisdom…
Psalm 119:41-46 The Msg