The other day I made plans with my middle daughter, Eden, to go on a coffee date, just her and I. I was very excited, even giddy, to get to spend some one-on-one time with her to talk, catch up and bond – well, as much you can bond with a 4-and-a-half year old.
She loves pumpkin "punky" bread, so we agreed to head to our local Starbucks that weekend. Saturday morning came and I jumped at the opportunity to be alone with my daughter, with no distractions or deadlines. I raced to get dressed and get my shoes on, eager to go out the door. I called for Eden, and said, "Are you ready to go spend some time with Daddy?"
Tears. Sobs. Eden buries her head in her mother's hip. Not only does she not share my excitement for our date, she doesn’t even want to go. In fact, it seems she'd rather do anything instead of spending time with me.
My heart sinks. I am shocked and immediately find myself in a very dark place, like the floor suddenly opened up beneath me.
Initially I am thinking I should call off our coffee date because I certainly don’t want to force this relationship. Why spend time with someone who obviously does not want to be there?
After seeing my face drop, my wife calms her down, somewhat, and Eden reluctantly submits to my wife's insistence that she still go with me. We head out while I try to process what to do with a child that does not want to be with me.
Settling in at Starbucks, I sit across from my daughter and lean forward in my chair, weight on my elbows, waiting and hoping that we could just talk and share, that maybe her attitude has improved, that maybe she might want to be there now.
I ask every question I can think of, and sometimes I get answers. Usually they are a word or two. The long silences give me time to think, and I am struck with one enduring thought.
How many times has my Heavenly Father sat similarly disappointed across from me when I promised Him time to be together, to talk and pray, and to read His Word? But I did not want to be there. How many times has He been leaning on His elbows waiting for my answers? And how much more is He also not going to force me into relationship with Him?
My daughter is a small child. She does not understand the depth of love I have for her, nor can she fathom the loss she creates by rejecting me. So I will remain patient with her, knowing that some relationship is better than none, and perhaps next time she will want to know me and be with me. Until then, I lean forward, weight on my elbows, in anticipation, and wait.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise...but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9 ESV