The Outburst at Dinner that Changed it AllA Revelation of the Perfect Father
I was 22 and newly married to my supermodel wife, Karen. (I went with supermodel here, as she doesn’t like it when I call her “my lovely wife.” Apparently, lovely is for grandmas and fine china. But she is lovely, and in a stunning supermodel way, like a sudden breath of crisp fall air, or a thrilling stolen kiss in her parent’s kitchen, more beautiful than grandma or fine china.)
I was finishing up Bible College and the school had an amazing tradition of praying for the graduating students. They actually devoted a whole week to it. The entire campus, students and faculty, would meet in the chapel several hours each day and pray corporately while a few elders in the faith – led by the Holy Spirit – would give specific words of encouragement and direction to the graduating individuals.
Two chairs were set in the front of the auditorium. Karen sat with me in what students had nicknamed “the hot seats.” The elders gathered round us like loving fathers and mothers. Sylvia Evans, a woman in her 50’s who lived boldly for God on the mission field abroad and in the US, stepped near. Very kindly she said, “Jason” she paused and looked me in the eyes, “I feel like God is telling me that you see yourself as a spiritual dwarf. But He wants you to know that He sees you as a spiritual giant.” I began to cry.
It wasn’t the kind of tears I shed when watching “Friday Night Lights,” or “Notting Hill”…
Yeah, I’m a crier. I can be moved to tears. Like when I recently found the brown paper bag in our Mini Van with an apple, a granola bar, a small package of pretzels and a note inside. The note was written in the hand of my stunning 12-year-old daughter Madeleine and it accompanied the bagged lunch she had prepared for the men and women we so often see standing with a sign at the stoplight. The note read, “Dear loved one, Jesus loves you and I want you to have this food.” Yeah, there were tears.
But normally my tears are light and quickly contained. However, when Sylvia spoke the heart of God over me, I didn’t just shed a tear, I sobbed – the kind of sobbing where you need a box of tissues. The kind of sobbing that is disturbing; that makes those witnessing it want to look somewhere else, anywhere else. I couldn’t contain myself. The idea that God saw me as a spiritual giant, well, it seemed too good to be true. And yet everything in me longed to believe it!
I don’t know about you, but I have lived most of my life from my own perspective. Looking back, I now know why Sylvia’s statement, directly from heaven, so messed me up. For just a moment, I saw myself from my Heavenly Fathers perspective. I was so unprepared for what I saw that I couldn’t even function. It was so contrary to my perspective and so wonderfully good that I was overwhelmed.
For a moment, Gods perspective exposed and resolved my ferocious internal battle. A battle I had been born into, a battle that intensified the moment I said yes to God – A battle regarding my identity. A battle I am still engaged in, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one…
A Dysfunctional Relationship
friend of mine, Kris Vallotton, was eating dinner with another of my hero friends, Graham Cooke. Both are incredible men of God and have greatly influenced my life. As Kris tells the story, both he and Graham were at a dinner with several other leaders. The food was good, the conversation even better. While everyone at the table was in lively discussion, Graham was quietly eating. Suddenly, halfway through his dinner, Graham blurted out, “I don’t want to be desperate for God!” Then he went back to eating.
Everyone at the table waited for more. Nothing more was forthcoming as Graham seemed to have fully re-engaged in his meal. The once lively table was now quiet. Kris began to digest Graham’s statement. Grahams outburst didn’t appear relevant to his last conversation, nor any of the others throughout the night. Finally, Kris broke the confused silence. “Graham, what do you mean?”
What Graham said next radically changed my life. It was the lynchpin, the missing piece, the “ah ha” moment in my journey, 38 years in the making. In fact, what Graham said so profoundly shifted my perspective regarding my heavenly Father that I’m not sure I can properly convey it. I’ve written a book in my attempt.
Graham said, “A relationship where the son is always desperate for the Father is dysfunctional.”
The Perfect Father
When I first heard Kris Vallotton’s story regarding Graham Cooke’s statement, “I don’t want to be desperate for God,” I knew it was big. I knew it was life-changing big. His statement reverberated in my heart like a thunderclap and I was convinced to my core that it was a profound truth, and it was just for me… and maybe for you as well.
I have been telling God about my needs my entire life. Need has been a part of our relational DNA; it’s a familiar theme, a comfortable reality, our love language. When I wake, throughout my day, and before I sleep, I talk with God often from the perspective of my needs or the needs of my family and friends. Words like “starving” and “desperate” are often the adjectives for my interaction with God.
For weeks, I contemplated Graham’s outburst. I could sense that God had a beautiful revelation for me in Graham’s statement. Every time I thought about it, I asked my heavenly Father to reveal His heart to me. Then one day, in the middle of a run, He asked me a question…
I like to run, and when I run, I feel His pleasure… sorry. But it’s true, in as much as running has become a sweet God time for me, we have many deep conversations… and so I run approximately five times a week—about three miles each outing. You could say I am a running hero! You could say that, if you wanted to.
When I first started running, I called myself a running hero. Then I met real runners, those who kept track of their time, and their heart rate. Oh, and apparently “real runner’s” run five miles before breakfast. Real runners pass me like I’m standing still, halfway through their ten mile, relaxed, mid-week jaunt. That includes women.
The other day while running I started feeling good about myself again when suddenly a lady sped past.
“On your left,” she said. Startling me. And then, “way to go!”
Can you believe it! I wanted to tell her I used to play ice hockey at a highly competitive level and I could skate circles around her… but I couldn’t catch up to her…
Anyway… I was out for a run when God starts speaking to my heart, “Jason,” He asked, “Remember that word given to you fifteen years ago from Sylvia Evans? Remember how I told you I see you as a spiritual giant. Well, I have been saying it to you every day since, I haven’t changed my mind, and I never will.”
Then God said something profound, which God is prone to do. “Jason, it’s illegal for you to entertain feelings of insecurity.”
As I ran, I began to cry—again. God continued, “Either agree with me or call me a liar. There are no longer any other options for you.”
If it sounds a little strong, it was, but in a stunningly perfect way.
Before I could even begin to digest all that my Father was speaking into my heart, He asked me another very profound question. A question that at first seemed disconnected to His previous statements.
“Jason, am I a perfect Father?”
“Yes,” I said. I did actually say it, which hopefully scared off any obnoxious ladies who had ideas of passing me like I’m standing still and then mocking me with their encouragement. But I digress…
God continued speaking to my heart, “If I am a perfect Father; then if we are in a dysfunctional relationship, it’s not on me.”
That statement from God; it wasn’t a question, it was revelation. It hit me so hard I had to stop running (which I didn’t actually mind, I was kinda out of breath from the crying). God’s statement answered the question that had been resounding in my heart since I had first heard Graham Cooke’s comment.
Then I said something out loud to my Father that was both beautiful and dangerous.
“Father, I will no longer allow our relationship to be determined by my need.”
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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