Friday, June 22, 2007

Anna... playing hard at the park
The Fence

When I was growing up, I never joined a gang, owned a gun, sold drugs or looted stores. I never really got in any fights and I never threw a party at my parent’s house when they were gone. Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that I was some sort of perfect little angel… I rebelled just like most teenagers do and I did it for the same reason that most teenagers do… I was trying to find out where my dad’s love stopped.

I don’t think that was my conscious thought when I was in the middle of my rebellion, but looking back, it is exactly what I was doing. My dad was a collegiate athlete who has been a coach now for thirty years. He is a jock. He is a neat freak and extremely responsible. When something has to be done within his area of responsibility, he does it five minutes ago. When I was in high school, Dad was a deacon in the church and sang in the choir. He only listened to the oldies station all day long. He has always been straight-laced and put together.

So… my rebellion? I got into rock music… heavy, fast, screeching rock music. I plastered the walls of my room with Nirvana posters (posters with Kurt Cobain wearing eye-liner). I blasted that music in the house all day long. I grew my hair out long and wore pants that were so baggy that I looked more like Bozo the clown than the skaters I hung out with. Then I asked for a bass guitar for Christmas… and I wasn’t going to be playing Motown on it. I got the bass and started a band that was so loud, unmusical and offensive it is a wonder we weren’t arrested. We practiced in my garage every week for hours on end. Now, this may not sound too drastic to you, but I knew how far I was pushing him. Why did I do it? Well, when it comes down to it, I really did love all that music and I wanted long hair because John Lennon looked so cool with it; but down deep I was running as hard and fast as I could to find the end of my dad’s love and acceptance.

I was looking for the fence… where would it end? When would he snap and reject me? You know, the answer to that question reminds me of the third story Jesus told in Luke 15 about lost things. He said that a man had two sons and that the younger one wanted to break away and live his life his own way. He took his inheritance prematurely (his dad was still alive) and ran off. He did whatever he wanted to do until the money ran out. He ended up sitting in a pig sty jealous of the pigs, starving to death. He remembered his dad and decided to go home thinking, “There’s no way I can ever be his son again, but maybe I could work for him and at least I would eat.” So he stood up and started to walk home. Jesus said, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

I never found the fence of Dad’s love and acceptance. My parents were at every show my band ever played… they even paid for our first few recordings! He never once told me to cut my hair, only to keep it out of my face. He paid for the ridiculous jeans and never once took down the posters he must have hated so much. Through all of it I never once went to bed without my dad kissing me and telling me he loved me. I may not sound like all that much of a delinquent to you, but I pushed him so hard and all I ever got was love and acceptance.

Before the son in Jesus’ story ever got close to home, he was bombarded with hugs and kisses. His dad screamed at the top of his lungs, “My son is home!” Then he threw him a party. That’s what the love of God is like for us… no matter how hard we’ve run or how far we’ve pushed Him, He never stops loving us. We’ll never find the fence.

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