Many months ago, I had a rather unexpected conversation with my father. We were on the way to work at a festival, whereupon arrival we’d sell handcrafted sodas – or so we thought. The back and forth had covered many topics, but as we pulled onto the property I punctuated the air with one final point: “I have a sneaky suspicion that God will be even more gracious than we can imagine.”
Exiting the cab, the crisp air caught in our chest and kept us quiet as we proceeded to set up the makeshift soda saloon. Soon, it was apparent the expected turnout had been exaggerated. Out of work, though, didn’t mean we were out of words.
“You know,” my dad said slowly and not without sadness, “I worry that when I stand before God he’ll say: ‘You remember that one thing you never told anyone about? That’s what’s keeping you out.’”
Not all that long ago, I thought something similar. I no longer did.
“Dad, that’s because you have a theology based on fear.”
He heard me, but he was not reassured by me. Too many years believing a certain way tends to do that to a person. Instead, he remained scared for his soul; and this despite being a believer. It was then that my hands moved deliberately but without my direction. My father was as surprised as I was to find them moving toward and coming to rest on his shoulders. Similarly, I spoke without first thinking of what to say.
“God is not out to get you. That is not the way of Jesus.”
At this, a memory moved in my father’s mind. It crossed his lips where just moments before a smile had crested. “When you were speaking earlier, that’s what I heard. I heard ‘God is not out to get you,’ and that’s what you just said.” He needed no more convincing.
No matter if or how long we have believed, we all need such reassurance, such HOPE. God is not out to get us. Rather, “comfort, comfort my people,” says [our] God” (Is. 40:1). The good news is that comfort has come in the person of Jesus. Emmanuel – God with us – is all the more convincing we need.
1 Peter 1:3