Does God want to hear what I have to say?
How can we know that God wants to hear what we have to say to Him? I was recently posed this question while sitting in a bible class on prayer, and my mind immediately recalled a core memory of my childhood.
Family enveloped almost every aspect of life during my formative years. I grew up in the same town with all eight of my cousins, all three of my aunts, both of my uncles, and both of my grandparents. In those days, we started the mornings by going to “the Greasy Spoon” for breakfast. We cousins finished eating quickly and then waited for the adults to do the same (over the span of a brief eternity). After breakfast, the adults all went to work together at the family business, Grandview Pharmacy, which my grandfather had purchased back in the sixties and operated since. Sometimes, my cousins and I would migrate down the street to my grandparents’ house where we would collectively push the limits of our grandmother’s patience. But there were also days that I was simply toted around by my mother. That kind of day would often include a myriad of destinations that required my best behavior, but sometimes, just sometimes, we would stop by the pharmacy. When we walked in that store, the option of running as fast as I could all over the building was back on the table. The first place I would run to was the back of the store where Grandpa, Aunt Rhonda, and Uncle Glenn were hard at work in the pharmacy.
The pharmacy was slightly elevated above the rest of the store and it had a view of the whole building. A small door provided entry to the pharmacy area from the side of the countertop. The door itself was insignificant, it didn’t lock, and if someone wanted to get in to the pharmacy, that door certainly wouldn’t have stopped them. But the door was as a barrier between the pharmacy staff and customers. Customers knew that they weren’t supposed to open that door, so they didn’t. But I wasn’t a customer. My reason for being in the store was completely different than everyone else’s. I ran to the door, I opened it up, and I jumped up in the pharmacy.
My grandfather stood in the middle of the pharmacy and paid close attention to his tasks. In hindsight, there’s no way he wouldn’t have heard me coming, but he looked down as if he didn’t notice my presence. To get his attention, I called out his name, “Grandpa!” and his face lit up as if on cue. He stopped his work, turned his body toward me, kneeled to the ground, opened his arms wide, and I sped with the wind toward my grandfather. His arms closed around me like eagles’ wings and enveloped me. He lifted me to the countertop, sat me down, and asked me “Whose boy are you?” I may not have been a kindergarten graduate at the time, but even I knew the answer to that one. Was it even a question? “I’m Grandpa’s boy!” I confidently exclaimed.
None of the customers were allowed to enter the pharmacy, but I was. And of those in the pharmacy, none were invited to my grandfather’s embrace, but I was. What had I done to gain the privilege of such a relationship? Truthfully, I hadn’t done anything, but there are bonds between us that cannot be manufactured. The nature of our relationship disposed him to joyfully give me his attention. No one else could call out to him and merit the same response that I did, but this power was mine for the simple reason that he’s my grandpa and I’m his grandson.
Consider the message of 1 John. Throughout the book, John gives comfort and confidence by repeating the fundamental truths that his audience has already come to know. In the beginning of chapter 3, he reminds them of their relationship with God. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” I read those last four words with powerful emphasis. A different author, Paul, reminds a different audience, the Galatians, that (chapter 4) “God sent forth His Son… that we might receive the adoption as sons, and because we are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His son into our hearts by which we cry out, ‘Daddy! Father!’” Brethren, how can I know that God wants to hear what I have to say to Him? Because there are bonds between us that cannot be manufactured; because the nature of our relationship disposes Him to joyfully give me His attention; because He is my Father, and I am His child!
The result of this core memory between my grandfather and I is profound: I have wanted to be a pharmacist since. I haven’t always understood what exactly a pharmacist actually was, and quite frankly I haven’t needed to. I wanted to be like my Grandpa, and whatever that ended up meaning was just fine with me. Dear brethren, understand that our relationship with God is exactly the same. 1 John 3 continues by saying that “we are children of God, but it has not yet appeared to us as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” God has chosen to call us His children. May we ever be compelled to be just like our Father.