July 24, 2007

To Own a Dragon

I read a great book last summer. It's called To Own a Dragon. It just kind of fell into my lap. My only gripe about the book is that the author (Donald Miller) puts a disclaimer in the forward that this book is mainly for guys who grew up without fathers (the subtitle of the book is "Reflections on growing up without a father"). I genuinely hope that that disclaimer doesn't scare anyone away. I want to share with you an excerpt (a long one) :

"I know submitting to authority isnt the most popular thing to do these days, but the thing about fathers, at least in John MacMurrays case, is they always have their kids interest at heart. That concept alone changed everything for me. If God was fathering me, and He knew exactly what I needed, then when I didnt get something I wanted, I could trust God didnt give it to me because it was not something I needed. I think that is part of what Jesus meant when He said, 'Thy will be done.'

Here is how this idea played out in the MacMurray house. Every evening around six, Terri would set dinner on the table, and the family would sit down to eat. And every night, almost without fail, the kids would start to whine. Unless it was chicken nuggets and French fries, there were going to be problems at dinner. One evening, Cassy, who was quite good at lobbying the family for what she wanted, lay down on the kitchen floor and rolled over in frustration about having to eat whatever it was Terri had prepared. John stood at the corner of the island in the kitchen and watched her, trying not to laugh. She twisted and turned and moaned and complained, but John stood silently, not letting her manipulate him. Finally, Cassy belted out the now famous line, 'Dad, how could you do this to me?' John and I covered our mouths and looked away in hysterics.

But here is what is so interesting about that scene. Cassy actually believed what she was saying had merit. The pain and frustration she felt about dinner that night was the same pain and frustration you and I probably feel about not getting the job we want, the car we want, or whatever. Looking back, it struck me how often I have wondered, sometimes out loud to God, "How could you do this to me?"

In the situation with Cassy, John had some choices as a father. One thing he could have done was to throw the dinner out and cook up some chicken nuggets and fries. But lets be honest, kids whose parents do this for them end up as evil dictators in small countries. Giving Cassy what she wanted rather than what she needed should not be confused with good parenting. If God was withholding something I wanted, it meant I could trust Him rather than cry out, How could you do this to me?
. . .
One of the most tender and beautiful scenes that would occasionally unfold in the MacMurray house was the calm, quiet peace that would come over one of the children when they were done trying to get their way. Cassy would get up off the floor and walk over to where her dad was and hold out her arms, her face still pouting. Then John would sit down on the couch and hold her and rock her in his arms . . . "

I saw this posted in an old blog and it spoke to me again today. May you today experience the calm, quiet peace that comes only from surrendering and cesasing any effort to get your way.

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